April 28, 2000
In their emotional, nationalistic, responses to the Elian episode, Miami's Cuban residents wasted much of their political capital that they had accumulated over the past years. They totally ignored the Mexican experiences in California during Governor Pete Wilson's par era and committed the same errors that caused Americans to turn against our efforts to gain justice in the U.S.
The emotional outbursts by the Cubans against our government, and their resorting to nationalistic tactics, worked against them just as the nationalistic attacks by Chicanos against the U.S. In the 70's worked against our interests. Large segments of the Mexican American community were offended by the nationalistic outbursts in the streets of Los Angeles by Chicanos and Mexican residents with their displays of the Mexican flag and the thrashing of the American flag. The same tactics by the Cubans i.e. use of the Cuban flag and trashing of the American flag on the streets of Miami brought grave harm to the Cuban community, and by implication to all Latinos who call the U.S. their home. Miami's Cubanos put on display, for the world to see, their disloyalty to the country and its citizens who provided a haven for them when they fled Cuba. Those acts were deeply insulting to Americans who believe in their Constitution and Bill of Rights and who willingly fought to the death in the various wars throughout the world to defend others from the acts of oppressive governments.
Cubanos failed in their major test in loyalty to their new homeland. They had freely chosen to become citizens of this country. Few, if any of them, will ever choose to return to Cuba except to visit. Millions of Mexicanos will never return to live in Mexico or give up their American Citizenship. They will return to visit because we retain our cultural affinity to the home of our ancestors. So it will be for later generations of Cubano Americanos... Así es.
History placed Cuba, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and the rest of Latin America in a position of historical significance in the conquest and settlement of the American continent. They all played pivotal roles in the conquest and settlement of the Americas. They were instrumental in the WARS OF INDEPENDENCE, and provided the man power and resources for the U.S development as a world power. Unfortunately, that legacy is tarnished by the Miami Cubanos, who quickly forgot that they now are American citizens.
Unfortunately, the majority of the nation views all Latinos as cut from the same cloth. Mexican Americans, the largest of the Latino groups, will have to suffer the consequences of the actions of the Miami Cubanos. Our cause to become equal partners in the great American experiment has suffered a set back.