Friday, December 7, 2007

Lost Time in Miami

Recently in a post about an upcoming art show, I mentioned a Cuban museum that is part of MOAS in Daytona. Immediately, I received a comment like "isn't that the artwork Batista stole?" Then in response to the recent publicity about Eusebio Leal, blogs have featured his role in stripping Cuba of its cultural patrimony, most notably an open letter written to the King of Spain by well-known author Armando Valladares this April. In this letter, he basically tells the King that the painting gifted him by the regime, through the auspices of Leal, is stolen from the Cuban people.

Finally yesterday, you may have noticed, I didn't post. That's unusual, because I have a compact with my readers. I feel that if you are gracious enough to pay us a visit, I promise to have timely and interesting, as far as my and Lou's humble talents allow, material for you to read. I didn't post because I was in Miami, a trip that involves a considerable amount of driving. At lunchtime, I paid my very first visit to the Versailles. In all these years, I had never gone. I've been to the original La Carreta across the street many a time. I'm a sucker for the cart thing they have going on there, as well as the food. But, never, the Versailles. And I can't tell you how I would like to be there this morning.

As is usual, I am told, the place was packed. I looked around the room at all those beautiful, well-scrubbed Cuban faces, and in addition to that twinge of pride I always feel on the rare occasions when I am in a large gathering of Cubans, I experienced a moment of epiphany. Of all that Cuba has lost, of all that it has been stripped by those abominations masquerading as men, here was the greatest theft of all, in these people: well-groomed, with open hopeful faces, so obviously prosperous, most seemingly there on a lunch break. I thought back to the Miami of 1965 and how it had grown and been enriched by the presence of these people, of their parents, and grandparents, and I felt Cuba's loss all the more keenly.

All this drive, all the obvious optimism about the future, this prosperity rightly belonged in Cuba. And to me, these people were representative of the millions on the island whose initiative, drive, and ingenuity, subverted by an illegitimate regime, has been reduced to scoring some facsimile of a meal for the day by whatever means at hand. Can you imagine what they could do, if they were unleashed? I can.

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