I’ve found a Cuba outside of Cuba, I told a friend a few days ago. He laughed at my play on words, thinking I was trying to create literature. But no. In Brazil a septuagenarian excitedly gave me a medal of the Virgin of Charity of Cobre. “I have not been back since I left in 1964,” she confirmed as she handed me this little gem that had belonged to her mother. During my stay in Prague, a group of compatriots living there seemed to be more aware of what was happening in our country than many who vegetate, inside it, in apathy. Amid the tall buildings of New York a family invited me to their house and their grandmother made a “coconut flan” in the style of our traditional cuisine, so damaged on the island by the shortages and scarcities.
Our diaspora, our exile, is conserving Cuba outside of Cuba. Along with their suitcases and the pain of distance, they have preserved pieces of our national history that were deleted from the textbooks with which several generations have been educated or rather, raised to be mediocre. I’m rediscovering my own country in each of these Cubans dispersed around the world. When I confirm what they have really accomplished, the contrast with what official propaganda tells me about them leaves me with an enormous sadness for my country. For all this human wealth that we have lost, for all this talent that has had to wash up outside our borders and for all the seeds that have germinated in other lands. How did we allow one ideology, one party, one man, to have felt the “divine” power to decide who could or could not carry the adjective “Cuban.”
Now I have proof that they lied to me, they lied to us. Nobody has had to tell me, I can grasp it for myself on seeing all this Cuba that is outside of Cuba, an immense country that they have been safeguarding for us.