January 1st 2009 marked the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution. Bloggers from across the region took note of the occasion, with the voices of the Cuban diaspora being some of the most outspoken.
My big, fat, Cuban family remembers the experience of being forced to flee her country:
January 1, 1959.
Fifty years ago today.
A group of bearded rebels rode into Havana (my hometown) and turned our lives upside-down.
The details of our exile include:
* constant fear
* difficult decisions
* separation from familiar places and the people we loved.
I sincerely pray that in my lifetime I will get to see a free Cuba. Because fifty years under communist rule is WAY. TOO. LONG.
Another diaspora blogger, Uncommon Sense, believes that for Cuban Americans, the anniversary is not a day to be sad. He explains:
Fifty years ago, my family lost its home.
But the sadness is tempered — in fact, I hardly feel it at all — because I am free.
My only disappointment, one I hope is shared by fellow Cuban Americans, is that that same freedom does not prevail today on the island…
Cuban Americans do feel the pain of their countrymen, and we should act on that sentiment. With our freedom, comes a responsibility for Cuban Americans to aid the cause of liberty in Cuba. From the island today, we will see the usual images of marching soldiers and singing children honoring their slave masters…what you won't see are the independent journalists and human rights activists, the democracy advocates and the political prisoners, on the front lines against the evil that triumphed 50 years ago today.
Meanwhile, El Cafe Cubano republishes an article by Jose Reyes, which calls the Revolution “the biggest debacle in modern history”, and Babalu Blog, tongue firmly in cheek, comments on a story by The Washington Post:
Verdict: +70, a worthy effort by the Post on behalf of the regime. 822 words and not a single mention of firing squads, political prisoners, human rights abuses, dissidents, etc. A commendation is in order.
Some Cuban bloggers are doing just that. HavanaTimes.org focuses on the slew of activities that surrounded the occasion, another post tells of celebration despite tough economic conditions, and yet another reports that “President Raul Castro will address the nation from Santiago de Cuba on Thursday evening at the main celebration for the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Revolution.” Sunrise in Havana seems to have an answer to that, linking to a YouTube video and saying:
Five decades after the rise to power of the Castro brothers, Cuban crumbles, while the world keeps looking at the Castros as if only they were citizens of Cuba.
Boris Leonardo Caro of Bloggers Cuba [es] admits that lately, things have not been going as smoothly, and examines some important sectors of society that need improvement such as education and infrastructure. He notes that the “exodus of young professionals is also alarming.” Despite these challenges, there is still hope:
La Revolución cubana llega a sus 50 años con un complejo panorama de problemas económicos y políticos que amenazan su existencia. Sin embargo, esas mismas amenazas pueden transformarse en oportunidades para re-crear el proceso sobre bases renovadas. En pocas palabras: la Revolución necesita revolucionarse.
The Cuban Revolution reaches 50 years old with a complex panaroma of economic and political problems that threaten its existence. However, these same threats can become opportunities to recreate the process using renewed foundations. In other words: the Revolution needs to revolutionalize itself.
Elsewhere in the Caribbean, bloggers also acknowledged the anniversary, with Notes From Port of Spain constructing a conversation between Fidel Castro and “a voice from among the dark trees of the Sierra Maestra”. The date? January 1st, 1959:
The revolution will last for fifty years, said the voice. You will make many mistakes, and face many difficulties. Your people will suffer. But you will not succumb, and you will still be alive to see the great anniversary.
Estupenda! cried Fidel, waving his cap in the air as he danced around the fire.
And, Fidel, one day Cuba will be welcomed into the “International Community” of capitalism, democracy and free markets with the help of a black American president … Fidel? Hello? Fidel, are you there?
But despite speculation as to how Barack Obama could respond to the US/Cuban embargo (among other issues, such as human rights abuses on the island), popular Cuban blogger Generation Y prefers instead to look forward:
Men succeed each other, ideologies collapse, leaders die and speeches get shorter; everything is under the repetitive cycle of the sun that sets and rises again. When I look from my balcony towards the rising sun, I realize how small we are, how laughable are some peoples’ pretensions of superiority.
Here is the first sun of 2009, the golden circle of light that will survive us all. I wish you a Happy New Year and may the rays of this dawn warm everyone.