Cubana throwdown? Or just a disconnect?

Life in Cuba is more complex than Ana Varona portrays it

When I moved to Chico almost 12 years ago, finding a community of people who were intensely interested in all things Cuban was balm to my soul. The most salient point that arises in our conversations is the complexity of the contemporary Cuban position and perspective.

On the one hand, almost without exception Cubans will complain about the scarcity of consumer goods and the fact that Cubans all learn to luchar (fight, struggle) and resolver (figure out some way around or through the problem). On the other hand, still today many Cubans talk with pride about the principles of the Cuban Revolution and how their own families profited greatly because of free top-notch medical care and the education and job training for all (regardless of race or family position).

In Cuba everything is complicated.

This is what I would remind CN&R guest commentator Ana Verona [“A cubana on freedom and equality,” March 1]. She has every reason to be angry about all that her family has suffered. And she is right to point out that Cubans are not free to leave the island without a special visa. However, the last time that the Latin American Studies Association met in the United States, the close to 100 Cubans with Cuban exit visas weren’t given U.S. visas to enter the country.

Still, lack of financial and political power is probably the prison that keeps most people trapped in their own country, the world over.

So I have taken a stance to change the balance of power. I founded Cubanabooks to allow the highest-quality literature written by Cuban women to find a new audience, an audience blocked to them because of the embargo against Cuba. These authors are strong, smart women, who explore the issues they find most pressing. This includes the economic hardships they deal with, as well as the complicated tensions of living in a nation where the legal and philosophical party line is that people of all genders and race are equal, but where the reality of what people actually think and do is very different. Sound familiar?

Cubanabooks isn’t trying to further a specific political agenda vis-à-vis the Castro family or socialism versus capitalism. We simply want to provide a cultural bridge, one that isn’t needed by Yoaní Sánchez, celebrated blogster with millions of readers.

Cubanabooks authors do need that bridge, and their books are now available in Chico.