James Buckwalter-Arias

James Buckwalter-Arias

Cubanodescendiente, nacido en Japón y radicado en Indiana, da clases de Lenguas y Literatura en Hanover College. Ha publicado varios artículos sobre la literatura y cultura cubanas, y es autor del libro Cuba and the New Origenismo (2010).

Bernie Sanders. Photo: Patrick Semansky/AP

The Real Lesson of Bernie Sanders’s Cuba Comments

Just one day after Bernie Sanders’s victory in the Nevada Democratic caucuses, Anderson Cooper asked the Vermont senator in a 60 Minutes interview to clarify statements he had made about Nicaragua and Cuba in the 1980s. We see two old grainy video clips, we hear Anderson Cooper’s offscreen voice explaining to viewers the positions that Bernie Sanders had articulated at the time. We see a forty-something Sanders, with longish gray hair and no tie, and the glasses with the black plastic frames he wore at the time. Only towards the end of the second video do we hear Sanders speak a complete sentence for himself, and he is talking about the Cuban Revolution and Fidel Castro: “He educated the kids, gave them health care, totally transformed the society.” Almost forty years later, in this moment in the interview, viewers are meant to understand that a great deal depends on Sanders’s answer, that the elderly man in the coat and tie, the sparse white hair, faces a moment of truth. The older man meditates on the naïve and simplistic declarations of the younger self, and his choice is clear: he must plant his feet firmly on the mainland and advocate for...

Photo: Cristóbal Herrera/EFE

Cuban American 2.0: The Case for Dissent

Trumpism has arguably caught Cubans off guard, some of us dumbfounded and others complicit before the swelling crowds chanting “Send them back!” at Trump rallies; anxious as we watch the new Commander in Chief inciting his followers; disturbed, many of us, by the latest measures the Trump administration has taken against the Cuban government that will surely win political points among the exile establishment in South Florida but that in no way reflect the increasing diversity and, indeed, the sharp divisions in the Cuban American community. Trumpism finds us unprepared, moreover, to respond in rational, coordinated ways to a further ramping up of the cruel and illegal measures designed to inflict suffering on the ordinary Cubans that the architects of the embargo had in mind when, sixty years ago, they prescribed measures that would bring about “disenchantment and disaffection based on economic dissatisfaction and hardship.” The ultimate goal, of course, has always been to bring about “hunger, desperation, and the overthrow of the government.” It is possible that many Cubans don’t feel that the chants at Trump rallies refer to them at all, that the surge in xenophobia and nativism don’t really apply to Cubans, who have always enjoyed a...

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