lunes, agosto 28, 2006

Spanish and English stay alive in Hispanic homes

By Fernando Zapata
Published by The News-Press
on August 28, 2006

My 10-year old, Mexican-born son, Cesar, loves "The Simpsons."

Every afternoon, while I drive him home from school, he insists on telling me the details of Homer's latest exploits.

All while laughing, of course.

I smile and laugh along. Although, I have to confess, I understand very little of what my son says.

Cesar re-creates all the Simpsons' misadventures for me — often imitating their voices — totally in English.

For me, someone raised in a Latin American country, Cesar's accent, his mannerisms, and his very sense of humor are a little bit too ... American.

My wife and I speak English. But at home, we insist — to Cesar's disappointment — on speaking only Spanish.

When possible, we change the mode of all the DVD movies, and TV channels to Spanish.

At the same time, we do our best to correct Cesar's sloppy accent and sudden fits of Spanglish.

We do our best to keep Spanish alive in Cesar and our 2-year-old son, Eric.

But at the same time, we have a similar, yet vastly opposite struggle outside home.

At school, we are adamant about our kids learning perfect English.

And we argue with teachers and school administrators who insist in placing them in "bilingual" classes, because "it's good for them."

We don't want that. We want our children to speak English, without losing Spanish.

American kids

For Americans, this may sound like a contradiction. And in many regards it is.

But for the majority of us Hispanic immigrants the issue is simple: We speak Spanish at home, but we understand we are in the United States.

And we want our kids to be American.

My small bilingual issue, though domestic, is reflected on a national level too: There is a huge debate on the topic.

Strangely, this debate is not between pro-Hispanic groups against anti-Hispanic organizations.

No, it's among Hispanics themselves: It's about those who want to keep their cultural roots, and see Spanish as the second — or perhaps the only — official language of the United States, against those who want to learn English and assimilate into the mainstream.

Oddly, the former group is composed of American-born citizens, while the latter are, usually, recent immigrants. Powerful Latino groups like MECHA (in English, Chicano Student Movement of Aztlan) and — to a lesser extent — LULAC (League of United Latin American Citizens), use Spanish and bilingual education as political cards to lobby for their national agendas.

The leaders of these Hispanic organizations — most of them American citizens from many generations back — speak only English at home.

Their Spanish is often awkward, to say the least.

On the other hand, we, the recent immigrants, while not fluent yet in English, remain on the opposite side of the debate.

Yes, most of us speak Spanish at home, but strongly insist that our language not be left out.

And we know the best way to succeed is by learning the national language, English.

Look at the studies

I am not an expert here. However, as a parent, I still find something disturbing about having my kids being taught in separate classes and in a different language than the rest of the American students.

I want them to have the same opportunities as everyone.

And I am not alone.

Some studies reflect this trend among Hispanic immigrants.

A survey conducted by the Pew Hispanic Center and the Kaiser Family Foundation between 2003 and 2004 found that 92 percent of Latinos —native and foreign-born — believed teaching English to children of immigrant families was "very important."

Remarkably, only 87 percent of whites, and 83 percent of African-Americans, have this same opinion.

The difference is even wider among Hispanics themselves: Only 88 percent of the U.S.-born, English-speaking Hispanics considered this topic "very important."

In contrast, 96 percent of foreign-born, Spanish-speaking Latinos answered favorably.

Contrary to popular belief (and the alarming claims by ultra-conservative talk-radio hosts) Hispanics do assimilate.

Moreover, we are assimilating at a faster pace than past immigrants did.

A paper by the Population Reference Bureau released last June, stated that "historically this transition took three generations. ... Today, however, more first- and second-generation Americans are becoming fluent in English." The study also found that a staggering 99 percent of second-generation immigrant children in public schools of San Diego and Miami spoke fluent English, while less than one-third kept fluency of their parents' tongue by the age of 17.

Melting pot alive

As a parent, I don't need studies to know what's going on: I see it every day at home, with Cesar and Eric.

But also with nephews, nieces and friends' children — all whose parents are first-generation immigrants, like us.

We teach our kids about their parents' home countries.

And we feel excited when our children say they had a great time on their Mexican (or Salvadorian, or Peruvian) vacations, visiting their "abuelitos" (grandparents) and "amigos" (friends).

But we immigrants want our kids to be Americans. That's why we came here in the first place. If we wanted them to be Mexicans, we would have remained there.

And we know English is the language of this land.

Even relatives in our home countries know it: The first thing they ask us when we visit is: "So, have you learned English yet?"

Cesar knows it, too. He can't understand why we force him to speak, listen to and write Spanish. For him, "English is way cooler."

As I said before, the "Melting Pot" is alive and well.

Despite all those Americans who have lost faith in it.

cfzap@yahoo.com

viernes, agosto 25, 2006

Cada vez más blancos están huyendo de las ciudades de Estados Unidos

DESDE LAS ENTRAñAS DEL MONSTRUO

Por César Fernando Zapata

“Felicidades: Ha venido usted a parar al condado más racista y segregacionista de Estados Unidos”.
Esta fue la bienvenida que me dio un inmigrante colombiano con muchos años de vivir en el suroreste de Florida, a pocos días de llegar yo a Fort Myers.
Como lo dijo medio riéndose, supuse que era en broma, así que le seguí el juego.
Después, me di cuenta que su risa no fue burlona, sino maquiavélica.
Semanas después, almorcé con un destacado miembro de la comunidad cubana en la ciudad de Cape Coral. Mientras comía una sabrosa torta cubana, me comentó casualmente:
“Aquí hay mucho racismo. Aún no lo has sentido porque aún eres nuevo, pero lo sentirás. Es algo que se siente en el ambiente”, me comentó.
Siguió comiendo su torta cubana y disfrutando de su batido: “Se siente. Lo sientes cuando vas en la calle. Lo sentirás cuando entres a una tienda.”, comentó, sorbiendo de su popote. “Está en todas partes”.
Meses atrás, cuando llegué aquí por primera vez para la entrevista de trabajo, platiqué con otro inmigrante colombiano, quien relató algo que le pasó mientras cubría un evento musical para una estación de radio en vivo.
“Estábamos allí, afuera del auditorio, entrevistando gente con nuestro micrófono, cuando llegó una patrulla, con sus torretas encendidas”, recordó. “Los policías nos dijeron que los vecinos habían llamado para quejarse que ‘unos hispanos’ estan haciendo escándalo”.
“¿Cuál escándalo, le preguntamos. Somos medios, estamos entrevistando personas, le dijimos, mostrándoles nuestras credenciales. Los policías de todas maneras nos dijeron que nos fuéramos de allí”, agregó.
Obviamente, tuvieron que moverse de allí.
Otra anécdota: Una vendedora de publicidad se quejaba de cómo debía lidiar con “americanos” de esta zona día a día.
“Aquí son puros ‘rednecks’”, decía molesta, refiriéndose al término que usan los anglosajones para referirse a los ‘gringos’ rancheros, ‘nacos’ provincianos e ignorantes que todos desprecian –hasta los propios gringos. “Y ya sabes que a los ‘rednecks’ sólo les interesa las cosas de ‘rednecks’”.
Al principio, esta clase de comentarios me sorprendieron. Uno no lo creyera al venir y conocer esta zona, tan atractiva turísticamente, llena de actividades naturales, costa, playas, lagos, ambiente “floridiano”… y tanta gente de tantos lugares del mundo.
Pero aquí no es Miami. Ni mucho menos Dallas. La población hispana ha crecido enormemente en los últimos cinco o diez años, y de un pueblecito somnoliento, esta zona se ha convertido en un área metropolitana muy dinámica.
Pero crecimiento significa inversión. E inversión trae trabajos. Y esto es lo que ha atraído a gentes de otros lados, sobre todo inmigrantes latinoamericanos.
El crecimiento ha sido pasmoso. Y si a nosotros, los hispanos, este “boom” nos ha agarrado por sorpresa, me imagino que para los anglosajones (quienes durante décadas consideraron esta zona “su pequeño lugar secreto”, donde descansar y relajarse) esto ha de ser un shock difícil de digerir.
Pero no por racismo en sí (aunque seguro hay gente bastante racista), sino por un proceso normal. Me explico.
En Estados Unidos oficialmente no hay racismo. Fue abolido oficialmente en el siglo 19, después de la Guerra Civil. Pero no fue sino hasta la década de 1960 que, con los movimientos civiles de Martin Luther King y César Chávez, la desegregación y la igualdad de oportunidades para todos (sin importar raza) se hizo una realidad, y una política oficial del gobierno.
Costó mucha sangre, mucho dinero y muchas tragedias. Pero se logró.
Pero sólo en el papel.
Actualmente, son los mismos americanos (de todas las razas) los que practican un racismo tal vez subconsciente. Y nadie lo quiere aceptar.
Y si los blancos son racistas con otras razas, lo mismo se puede decir de los negros y hasta de los hispanos.
¿Porqué? Porque cada grupo se junta con miembros de su propia raza, credo o color, y acaban formando enclaves exclusivos.
Así, vemos barrios completos de una determinada raza, no porque el gobierno lo haya impuesto, sino porque los propios habitantes así lo buscan.
Algo similar ocurre en las escuelas: Oficialmente las escuelas son igualitarias. Y se cumple: En los salones conviven niños y maestros negros con blancos, asiáticos e hispanos, sin problema.
Otra cosa ocurre a la hora del almuerzo o del recreo: Los alumnos negros tienden a juntarse. Igual los hispanos y los blancos.
Cada quien forma “clanes”, sin que los maestros lo promuevan o los obliguen.
Parece que es una naturaleza innata del ser humano desde los primeros años: Juntarse con otros con los que se identifique. Con otros que se le parezcan, física y mentalmente.
Este proceso, aunque suene cruel, es hasta cierto punto “normal”. Pasa en todas partes.
A Fort Myers y Cape Copral (la ciudad vecina, que en el 2005 fue la tercera localidad de mayor crecimiento de todo Estados Unidos) no les está pasando nada nuevo. Este mismo proceso le ocurrió hace cincuenta años a Los Angeles, a Chicago y a Dallas: Está llegando gente de muchas partes.
Pero con esto se ha desatado otra clase de inmigración, pero al revés: La salida de los anglosajones de la ciudad y su mudanza a enclaves lejanos al centro.
Lo que pasó ya en California, Texas y Nueva York desde hace cincuenta años, le está ocurriendo a Fort Myers hoy en día.
Y esto ha causado otro fenómeno: La emigración de los anglosajones fuera de las ciudades.
Es lo que se llama el “White Flight” (o “Vuelo Blanco” o “Vuelo de los blancos”.)
Cada día, más familias blancas están literalmente “emprendiendo el vuelo”, lejos de los barrios multiétnicos de las ciudades, y se mudan a suburbios más alejados (y caros).
Algunos de estos fraccionamientos (casi en medio del campo y de la nada) hasta tienen accesos privados y guardias en la puerta.
Claro, estos enclaves exclusivos no se anuncian como racistas, ni les ponen trabas a los compradores de cualquier raza.
Pero sus precios son estratosféricos. Y así de hecho limitan sólo a “ciertas familias” de ingreso alto su acceso a estos barrios.
Y casualmente, los mayores ingresos los obtienen los anglosajones.
Mientras tanto, los centros de las ciudades, y los barrios “antiguos” están llenándose de familias pobres, o inmigrantes de clase media o media baja. Y así se crean los ghettos, casi sin pensarlo ni desearlo.
En algunos años más, cuando hayan más y más hispanos en el suroeste de Florida, los anglosajones que ahora viven en los barrios más caros se irán mudando cada vez más lejos.
Como mencionamos en una columna pasada, debido a que en su mayoría estos “gringos” son ancianos jubilados, uno de los lugares a donde quizá huyan para alejarse de los hispanos será, casualmente… México.
Ironías de la vida.
cfzap@yahoo.com
http://cesarfernando.blogspot.com

lunes, agosto 07, 2006

"Immigrants are dirty and lazy… They will never be Americans like us”

By Cesar Fernando Zapata
Published by The News-Press
(www.news-press.com)
On Aug. 7, 2006

A famous American figure bitterly complained once about the “swarm” of immigrants who arrived to the country.
He feared that one day America might become a “colony of aliens”:
“Few of their children in the country learn English”, he wrote. “They begin of late to make all their bonds and other legal writings in their own language, which (though I think it ought not to be) are allowed good in our courts (…) so increases that there is continual need of Interpreters; and I suppose in a few years they will be also necessary in the Assembly, to tell one half of our Legislators what the other half say.”
“(Those immigrants) will never adopt our language or customs, any more than they can acquire our complexion”, lamented this famous American in one writing.
Of course, those who read these articles were alarmed. And they totally agreed.
Who is this mysterious figure who expressed such hate towards immigrants?
Is it Pat Buchanan? Or Samuel Huntington, the Harvard professor who fears Spanish language and Catholicism would one day undermine the American identity?
Is it Tom Tancredo, the stubbornly anti-immigration congressman?
Or is it one of those famous Minutemen, who patrol the Mexican border at their will?
Not a chance. The author of those articles is no other than… Benjamin Franklin.
Yes, THAT Benjamin Franklin.
The quotations found here have been mentioned by several columnists, like Lucinda Dillon Kinkead and Richard De Uriarte.
What “swarm” of alien immigrants he referred to with such contempt?
No other than… German immigrants.
Back in those early pre-Revolutionary days, Anglo-Americans controlled the economy, trade and government in the original thirteen colonies. Their quality of life was enviable, even for British standards.
German immigrants, on the other hand, were poor, countryside people. Many were illiterate, and did the hardest, worst-paid jobs.
Pennsylvania —Franklin’s colony— was a main magnet for immigrants: Almost one third of its population was of German origin.
These immigrants were despised by the rest. Germans were regarded as dirty, and stupid. Just a little better than animals.
“They will never be like us”, thought Franklin, and many others..
Now let us fast-forward a little in time. Fifty or one hundred years later, those Germans “who would never assimilate”, were in fact totally assimilated. Their descendents were so integrated into the melting pot, that it was hard to tell them from “average Americans”.
True, many still kept their elders’ language, but just as simple tradition. All of them spoke English as well as anyone. And they were “stupid” no more: They had become artisans, soldiers, traders, and even politicians.
Then, by mid 19th century, the Irish came. And deeply impoverished they were. (Perhaps even more than German immigrants). It was the time of the Great Famine in Ireland. Back then, Ireland was like the Africa of Europe. -a world apart of today’s wealthy Ireland.
Those new Irish immigrants were not schooled: The majority were poor farmers. Illiterate and desperate.
And it was the turn of the Americans of German-descent to hit the roof.
Why? Because the newcomers were perceived as (of course!) lazy, dirty, drunk, stupid and troublemakers.
The “No Irish Allowed” signs were a common sight outside factories and other businesses
“The Irish will NEVER be like us”, surely was a common complaint among Americans back then.
Fast-forward again in the future, and we’ll see that, after several generations, the Irish descendents were totally assimilated. They were policemen, workers, soldiers, firefighters, and even politicians.
And then… it was the Italians’ turn.
No new story here: Italian immigrants were also poor, illiterate and hungry. And like others before them, they were accused of being stupid, criminals and nobody believed they would ever assimilate, nor learn English.
Like the Irish, Germans and Eastern Europeans, Italians were also accused of crowding prisons, public hospitals, schools and depressing wages.
Today, the descendents of those immigrants are “pure Americans”. It’s hard to tell them apart from those first pilgrims of British ancestry.
Some of the descendents of those immigrants have been elected presidents: John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan (Irish) Dwight Eisenhower and Herbert Hoover (German).
Let’s fast-forward again to the 21st century: Millions of hard-working, tax-paying, law-abiding Americans of German, Irish and Italian descent find it hard to believe their ancestors once were labeled as lazy, criminals and freeloaders. And they laugh out loud at the mere thought that they would never assimilate.
But now it’s the turn of Latin American immigrants.
They are poor. Many uneducated. And are accused of crowding jails, schools and depress wages or American-born workers.
And of course, it is said these new immigrants will NEVER assimilate.
Don't these complaints sound familiar?
Some anti-immigrant activists are horrified of “fast-forwarding” history. Because they fear that, in 50 or 100 years, the United States will be, in their opinion, a different country. Alien to them. And worse off.
But for the average American of the year 2100 (who may be named Raul Roberts, Kevin Lopez or Esperanza Harrison), the real “aliens” would be those who complain today against Latino immigrants.
Those future and proud Americans will surely laugh loudly when reading about the hysteria that the “swarm” of Hispanic immigrants caused in the early 21st century United States of America.

cfzap@yahoo.com
www.cesarfernando.blogspot.com

Why are Americans so afraid of Spanish?

By Cesar Fernando Zapata
Published by The News-Press
(www.news-press.com)
On July 31, 2006

FORT MYERS, Florida - I have always loved learning languages. For me, it’s an intellectual challenge. The intellectual challenge, par excellence.
As a Mexican immigrant, I speak two languages: Perfect Spanish -or at least, that’s what I like to believe, although some would like to have a say on this -and English.
(Okay, I know my English may sound sometimes a little bit like Arabic, but once you get to know me, you may even understand my pronunciation.)
I have also started to learn French. Sadly, my efforts so far have yet to get passed from Comment allez-vous?, Merci and Freedom Fries.
I even once tried my luck -rather timidly- with Japanese. (Don’t ask me if I can remember any of it, but I love sushi!)
Languages are fun to me. With the added bonus that they might come in handy when you least expect.
This always comes to my mind whenever the issue of English-only policies in the United States is discussed.
Every day, the tone of the arguments over the “invasion” of Spanish increases. And with every new bilingual sign at Home Depot, or with every recorded message asking to dial 2 Para Español, Americans feel that their national language is on the verge of extinction.
Oddly enough, the same fears can be found south of the border: Mexican politicians and intellectuals cry out loud everyday to defend Spanish from the “invasion” of English language.
Extremism is the same everywhere.
Now, don’t get me wrong: As an immigrant, I recognize English as the de facto (no pun intended) national language of the U.S. Everybody does so around the world.
It seems that the only people who are worried about the well being of the English language are… English speakers.
Languages do disappear every day. At least half of the world’s 6,000-plus languages spoken today will be lost in several years, according to a report by the National Science Foundation.
But this is not the case with English language. English is alive and well in the U.S.
British linguist Steven Roger Fischer predicts that 300 years from now, only three languages will be truly international on a global scale: Mandarin Chinese, English and Spanish. The rest of today’s “main” languages (like German, French or Japanese) will not disappear completely, but their influence will be reduced to a regional level.
Not English not Spanish will disappear. Both languages have long histories, strong literature, art and enough population to remain important.
And unlike Chinese’s overwhelming complexity, English and Spanish are far easier to learn, which contributes to their growth.
In fact, the Chinese learn English and Spanish in numbers, rather than wait for us to learn their language.
Around the world, young people in many countries perceive English and Spanish as “cool” to learn (thanks to Hollywood movies and Mexican telenovelas). This ensures their permanency.
So, what’s with that fear about Spanish sweeping English away? That will never happen.
Today, with so many options in communications languages reach their just dimension: They are not cultural weapons anymore. Rather, they become, simply put, knowledge.
And as my grandmother used to say, knowledge never takes up any space.
It’s like Physics or learning to play the piano. Why these skills should be exclusive only to scientists or musicians to learn?
Spanish shouldn’t be a monopoly of us, Hispanics. Why are we the only ones who get the privilege to become bilingual?
Why don’t Anglos, or Asians, or African-American children get to speak Spanish, too, or any other language?
Spanish is not an invader. It was the first European language spoken in the United States, well before English arrived to its shores.
In Fort Myers it was the language spoken by its first settler, Cuban Manuel Gonzalez. Even the name Florida is Spanish for “Flowered”.
Now, this does mean immigrants “don’t want to learn English”, as many Americans claim.
Of course, there are some Latinos who believe English is not worth the effort, and brag about their total incompetence in learning it. Their loss.
But the vast majority of us, Hispanics, know better. And we invest time, effort and money to learn at least the basics of English to get by.
But it takes time. Some Americans ignore this, and want perfect communication, and they want it now.
Languages are hard to learn. Especially for someone working two shifts to put food on the table.
Even Spanish –perceived as one of the “easiest” languages- has enough nuances in tenses and verbs, which demand at least three years of constant study to achieve “acceptable” fluency.
The majority of Americans living in Mexico haven’t reached enough fluency in Spanish to be considered “bilingual”. And they will never do.
Why should it be easier for Hispanics to learn English?
Moreover, Latinos face an uphill battle with English, due to its highly irregular spelling system, and countless “exceptions” in pronunciation, compared to the more regular Spanish grammar.
Mario Pei, the renowned Italian linguist calculated that Spanish had around 350,000 terms in its total vocabulary, while English had 500,000 commonly used terms… plus 500,000 more words for certain specific fields.
Despite this, it’s way easier to find a Mexican who speaks English -on different levels of fluency- than finding an Anglo who speaks Spanish… or any other language, for that matter.
Now, probably you have something against learning Spanish. Maybe you don’t like Hispanics. That’s fine. But you have more than 5,000 other languages to choose from, not only Spanish.
Now, if you are not a hobbyist, and always want to get something back for your efforts, you can see it as an economic opportunity. There is a whole world outside the United States you could do business with.
After all, languages are tools to use. It’s their original and reason of existence.
Spanish, like any other language, is part of the cultural heritage of the Human race. It’s a skill, which can be studied, and learned by anyone. Everybody can make it part of his or her knowledge and culture. Everybody can make it his or hers.
The same way I was once able to learn English and make it as mine as Spanish.

cfzap@yahoo.com
www.cesarfernando.blogspot.com

viernes, agosto 04, 2006

“Hasta que no vea a Fidel muerto, no lo voy a creer…”

DESDE LAS ENTRAñAS DEL MONSTRUO

FORT MYERS, Florida – La noticia de que Fidel Castro dejaba el poder en Cuba (aunque sea “temporalmente”, aunque sea a su hermano Raúl), tomó por sorpresa a todo mundo.
En especial a los cubanos que viven en Florida.
Sin embargo, mientras que los exiliados en Miami se la pasaban en jolgorio y algarabía, del otro lado del Golfo de México, aca en Fort Myers, los cubanos preferían la mesura.
“¿Tú crees que sea verdad o sea joda, como dice el dicho cubano? Han sido tantas veces… Fidel es un maestro de la publicidad”, comentaba el Sr. Alfredo Chumaceiro, un empresario y líder comunitario de la zona.
“Es como el cuento del lobo: Cuando de verdad pasa, nadie lo va a creer”, dijo.
Sin embargo, reconoció que pueden haber muchos cubanos que se lancen desde ya a “matar un lechón” para celebrar, pero él no estaría entre ellos.
“Hasta que no lo vea muerto, no lo voy a creer”, sentenció.
Otros no están tan seguros. Y piensan que, para que el gobierno cubano haya leído tan inesperado anuncio, es porque algo ocurrió.
“Tiene que haber algo de cierto en esto. Creo que el hecho de que Castro haya cedido el poder, quiere decir que algo bien serio pasó. O que ya falleció, o está en graves condiciones”, opinó por su parte la Sra. María Cristina Mendieta.
Y pese a esto, insistió en la cautela: “Creo que las imágenes que salen en la TV, de gente celebrando en Miami, son un poco prematuras y exageradas.”
Su esposo, Jorge Mendieta, mencionó un tema del que no se ha hablado: La ola de cubanos que se lanzarían de regreso a su isla una vez que el regimen se derrumbe:
“Estados Unidos debe tener cuidado. Podría haber una crisis económica, porque hay tanta gente que tiene deudas en Estados Unidos y que se querrá ir a Cuba. ¿Quién va a pagar esas deudas?”, se preguntó. “Además, Cuba no tiene la infraestructura para recibir a tantos inmigrantes”.
Un gobierno de Raúl Castro no impresiona a estos inmigrantes. Para algunos, “sera lo mismo”, aunque para la mayoría “Raúl nunca sera Fidel”.
“En Cuba no hay socialismo ni comunismo: Hay ‘fidelismo’”, opinió el Sr. Mendieta.
Eso mismo piensa la Sra. Dania López, quizá una de las residentes hispanas más antiguas de la zona.
“Raúl no tiene la cabeza de Fidel. Fidel logró engañar a todo el mundo, pero no creo que Raúl tenga esa capacidad”, mencionó.
Pese a sus dudas, la Sra. López se dijo estar “feliz” de las noticias.
“Ya tengo hasta una botellita de champán enfriándose en el refrigerador… Y estoy vestida como cubana, con mi guayabera y todo”, afirmó alegremente.
Afuera de su negocio de plomería en la ciudad de Cape Coral, suburbia de Fort Myers, tiene ondeando –además de la bandera de Cuba- la de Estados Unidos.
“Tenemos también que querer a este país, que nos recibió”, advierte seria.
No todos los cubanos que salieron al exilio han triunfado en los negocios. Algunos dejaron Cuba luego de años de vivir en prisiones por cuestiones políticas. Esto los hace quizá hasta más escépticos que el resto.
Como el Sr. Víctor Valdés, quien vivió más de una década en Cuba de prisión en prisión “para que no supiera a dónde me llevaban”, dijo.
“No podemos perder que en Italia, los fascistas escondieron la muerte de Mussolini por dos semanas. Y cuando Stalin enfermó en Rusia escondieron su mal hasta cuando todo estuviera bajo control”, relató.
Pidió serenidad en las celebraciones, pero sin mucha esperanza de que los cubanos le hicieran caso.
“¿Cómo le puedes decir a un cubano que quizá haya perdido a su padre fusilado, o que pasó años en cárceles como yo, que no celebre porque Fidel esté enfermo o que muera?”, preguntó. Es imposible.
A pesar de todo, una cosa tienen en común estos exiliados: La esperanza de regresar.
“Ojalá que las familias separadas se reúnan nuevamente”, dijo emocionada la Sra. Dania López, con su voz quebrándose en llanto. “Y que yo pueda volver a ver Cuba antes de morir…”
Para el Sr. Valdés la cosa no es de pedir, ni de esperanza: A sus 75 años está totalmente seguro de que muy pronto, va a volver a ver Cuba:
“Voy a visitar mis tierras, mis playas. Voy a regresar. Y nadie podrá evitármelo”.

cfzap@yahoo.com
www.cesarfernando.blogspot.com