Thursday, December 27, 2007

Some Lessons I Learned

"Deceit and violence - these are the two forms of deliberate assault on human beings. Both can coerce people into acting against their will. Most harm that can befall victims through violence can come to them also through deceit. But deceit controls more subtly, for it works on belief as well as action."*

Looking back over the year (and even some years before), I noticed that there were many reasons why Mambi Watch was created.

In doing research for this post, I found an old journal of mine that brought back some memories. It revealed that around the end of 2003 the monotony at work had allowed me to pay more attention to local news and politics, and soon on national politics. The start of the Iraq War without question had an influence, as it surely had upon the rest of the nation. I was soon drawn further into important questions on politics (which I never paid attention to before), followed by philosophy, and soon psychology.

Following the notes in my journal, the amount of literature I began reading (mainly related to the social sciences) had soon grown significantly and somehow my interest turned to US-Cuba relations. The topic must've seemed very attractive at the time: politics, power, a fascinating history, moral dilemmas, and it was all happening in my backyard. I soon began to focus more of my research on the topic.

Mambi Watch, when it began one year ago, caught me still researching the topic of US-Cuba relations, and provided two wishes: to make public certain facts that I felt were being neglected in the discussion of US-Cuba relations (especially by the local media), and to challenge what I felt was the distorted view of US-Cuba relations in the local media.

Looking back, I realize now I went head-first into unknown waters and with few swimming lessons.

But, Mambi Watch became part of the learning experience that was already underway. By investigating and challenging the local media's accepted image of Cuba, I would not only be able to challenge my personal assumptions on the matter, but ensure that I had informed myself well on the differing views about the island, especially from the hard-line.

And honestly, I never expected the hard-line rhetoric to be so crude and aggressive when it came to Cuba. It further troubled me that public violence and intimidation marked some instances in the expression of contentious views related to Cuba, especially in Miami during the 70's. As a result, I find it very disturbing that (30 years later) there are still influential individuals in our community that condone or ignore acts of violence and intimidation when it comes to Cuba-related issues. But, I learned there's a reason for that.

If there was one important lesson learned after one year of Mambi Watch it would only reaffirm the idea that information is power, and that Miami is perhaps THE battleground when it comes to US-Cuba relations. And, in my opinion, the public interest is losing.

Information sources like Babalu Blog (one among many similar websites) and Radio Mambi (one among many other Spanish-language media outlets) only help to distort the image of Cuba and decieve the general public in order to accept only ONE policy towards the island: unilateral sanctions. This punitive measure encourages and is an extension of similar aggressive US policies on other nations, exercised contrary to the opinions of the general public.

With political power placed within the hands of hard-line policy supporters in Washington and Miami (and with the predictable acquiesence of their loyal followers), Miami over the years has internalized these general hard-line principles, which itself depends on accepting a homogeneous image of the Cuban exile community. And, in a circular logic, that image also depends on political power and power over information about Cuba.

Provided that the political climate between the US and Cuba has changed very little (due to intransigent forces on both sides), I see no reason to believe that the structures of US/Cuba politics and power will soon change radically.

Of course, there are alternatives in changing this political stalemate. But, it is not likely that South Florida residents will be exposed to them. The local media (especially Spanish-language) has no incentive to challenge the prevailing view supporting US policy towards Cuba, and neither the courage to question the power and image of hard-line Cuban exile politics, and its psychological dependence on US unilateral sanctions.

A review of events of the past year would further clarify some of these points.

*[Bok, Sissela. (1978). Lying: moral choice in public and private life. New York: Pantheon Books.]

No comments: