13 Sep When Cuban-Americans Visit the Mother Country
By: Jorge E. Ponce —
The house where their parents once lived is most likely occupied by strangers who may not want to let them inside. After Cuban-Americans emigrated to the United States or elsewhere, Cuban authorities confiscated their homes without providing them any compensation and, in the majority of cases, turned them over at greatly subsidized prices to Cubans who stayed behind. So there is a great fear shared by these Cubans that the Cuban-American visitors are there to reclaim their former homes.
Even if they let them in, they do so with great reservations and never let their guard down. And, generally, the condition of the homes that once belonged to their parents leaves a lot to be desired. The exterior and interior of these homes are vastly dilapidated because of the shortage of construction and painting materials. The images of the homes that their parents showed them in old photographs bear no resemblance to the ones that they are visiting nowadays. Rather than a pleasant experience, they take away painful memories.
And there is a high probability that these Cuban-Americans will not find their parents’ homes. The decrepit conditions of most buildings and homes in Cuba are no match for the ravages of frequent hurricanes that tear through the island. Many have collapsed. So they could leave empty-handed and more depressed than before they came.
Another important ritual for these Cuban-Americans is to visit the cemeteries where their relatives are buried. But, once again, they may be in for a bigger surprise that will aggravate their already depressed mindset.
There are reports that thieves have been targeting Cuban necropolises and ransacking tombs for metal and Carrara marble objects to sell in the black market – including human bones used in occult ceremonies. Some inscriptions have been removed from the grave sites, leaving relatives clueless as to where their loved ones were buried. Vaults and other grave ornaments from Cubans who emigrated to the United States are specially targeted for this illicit trade.
The modus operandi in communist Cuba is a concept called “resolver.” In the vernacular, it means doing whatever you have to do to live a comfortable life. Stealing from your employer, your family, and tourists is all part of the resolver attitude. With the average monthly salary of a Cuban worker being $30, and that of a cemetery worker at $12, taking matters into your hands is a safe bet for survival of the fittest.
It is important to distinguish the religions that trade in human bones in Cuba. Most would automatically conclude that it is those who practice Santeria, but they are wrong. Instead, it is the practitioners of an Afro-Cuban religion called Palo Mayombe. Palo priests believe that bones contain the energy of the dead and ancestors. They highly value the skulls, arms, and legs and are willing to pay a lot of money for them for use in their rituals and offerings.
Because of these challenges, many Cubans have opted to cremate their loved ones. This may be the smartest option available for Cuban-Americans visiting the gravesites of their deceased relatives – if they are still around. Considering the risks involved in a country where the economic outlook remains dire, it is best to take back the cremated ashes to the United States and safeguard them in a place that was meaningful to them: a forest, an ocean, a beach, or a Willy Chirino dance.
Cuban authorities welcome Cuban-American tourists – as long as they spend their U.S. dollars on government-owned businesses. Grupo Empresarial S.A. (GAESA) is managed by the Revolutionary Armed Forces and includes a conglomerate of more than 50 companies – most of which cater to foreign tourists. So when Cuban-Americans are drinking Havana-Club drinks or smoking Cohiba cigars, they are supporting the Cuban government business ventures and prolonging the day when Cuba will become a free country.
It is a different thing when these Cuban-Americans delve into matters related to the time prior to their departures to the United States. All of a sudden, the welcoming “mi casa es su casa” attitude is transformed into demeaning chants of gusanos (counterrevolutionary worms), scoria (trash), and Miami Mafia – regardless of the fact that some Cuban-Americans do not reside in Miami. This is congruent with Fidel Castro’s famous quote: “dentro de la Revolución, todo; contra la Revolución, nada” (all within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state”). Calls to find missing grave sites go unanswered. To Cuban government officials, Cuban-Americans have no rights in Communist Cuba – only an obligation to help bankroll the Cuban Revolution.
Thus, I must ask, why oblige and support those who have oppressed the Cuban population for close to sixty years? Why assist a totalitarian regime that refuses to provide true freedom, prosperity, and civil rights to average Cubans?
These government apparatchiks continue to play games for the gullible liberal media outlets by announcing that they’ve left out from a draft of the Cubans’ 2018 constitution the aim of building a “communist” society, while keeping the Communist Party as the guiding force of the one-party system. Nothing has changed to better the lot of the Cuban people.
So I urge you to spend your hard earned money on tourist attractions that help the U.S. economy. Support the country that gave you shelter from the Cuban Gulag! And if you plan to travel abroad in the future, keep communist Cuba off your list.