SOS CUBA BY DAN LE BATARD
As all those television lights start to leave, all the familiar loneliness starts to return. Cuba, after a rare rebellious outburst by its poor people, used its communist broom to sweep all that scared desperation back inside those tattered homes, where it is harder for a distracted world to see and harder for an oppressed island to be free. God knows what happened or will continue happening to those protesters who dared to defy, some of whom have vanished. The fear, from over here, can make you feel as helpless and hopeless as trying to scream across the sea. #SOS Cuba. It's a distress signal. A panicked request for rescue. Please hear it. Please help it echo. Please don't let it die. Because hope dies with it and people do, too.
You've heard me say MY pain is forever borrowed. It visits ... and then it goes. That's how it can be sometimes when you are born into freedom instead of having to flee or fight to find it. It becomes easy to take for granted ... not unlike oxygen is ... right up until you struggle to breathe. The haunting stories were hand-me-downed my family tree to me, not stitched together by my own suffering. Same can't be said for Papi. Or my mother. Or their parents before them, either. They made all the compromises and sacrifices so that their boys, a writer and an artist, would never have to make a single one.
For the Cubans who made me -- and, by extension, the free spirit of this show -- the pain is more like the fresh sting left by a whip, if something like that could echo across six decades. Miami culture and Miami itself is built flamboyantly atop those strengths, sufferings, sacrifices and scars. But any Cuban in Miami can tell you how easily, and how daily, those wounds can be reopened. By anything. A meal. A song. A photograph. By turning on the tv ... or driving through a neighborhood where no English is spoken ... or gazing at a beautiful sunset above a beautiful ocean that hides a graveyard of desperation between your freedom and your homeland. To be Cuban in this country is to be an emotional hemophiliac. Once you are cut, it is hard to make that blood stop running, even if you've been trying to apply freedom's bandages for more than 60 years. My mother's esophagus still closes from the stress, ever since leaving her family in Cuba at 15, and I don't think there's anything that tests it more than the act of going to the pharmacy to send money or supplies to a brother she now hasn't seen in decades. She turns off the tv a lot these days because it hurts too much to welcome the haunting of all those ghosts. Last time she saw the protests, she said it was an orchestration by the government because nothing is seen in Cuba that Cuba doesn't want seen, such is her distrust of propaganda, such is her distrust, period. She's nearing 80 and she's tired, and the regime is threatening to outlive the 15 year old girl who fled from it 60 years ago, just as it outlived her parents before her.
I tell you all this now and again because, outside of Miami, there has been a heartbreaking thinning around the initial commotion of #SOS Cuba, where people are still literally dying to be heard. Without awareness, without sustained help from this country and the free people and leaders in it, without YOUR support and YOUR voice, the desperate rebels will lose, and their rebellion will be punished or killed without mercy. How desperate would you have to be to leave your family, go to the shore and literally throw your life to the wind as so many Cubans have done? It must be terrifying to be so broken by sickness and poverty and oppression that you finally summon the stomach to fight your government ... only to realize that the fight can't be won if American money, help and awareness don't remain at your back throughout it, not just when it is the cause and commotion of the moment in a world distracted by all manner of plague and poison. If you care about some of the people who make this show or its story, or the people who made some of those people and OUR story, I implore you to search #SOS Cuba and find the places you can help with small things like funding honest news on the island, internet access, phone chargers and phones so that Cuba's cries are not swallowed by the sea that divides us. It is a tiny ask through the tears for the smallest slivers of American freedom just so the cries for help don't feel unheard from the bottom of an unending well and an unending hell.
#SOS Cuba. It's a distress signal. A panicked request for rescue. Please hear it. Please help it echo. Please don't let it die. Because hope dies with it. And people do, too. #SOS Cuba. It's a distress signal. A panicked request for rescue. Please hear it. Please help it echo. Please don't let it die. Because hope dies with it. And people do, too. #SOS Cuba. It's a distress signal. A panicked request for rescue. Please hear it. Please help it echo. Please don't let it die. Because hope dies with it. And people do, too.