Things That Matter

Here’s How Some People Tried To Show The Reality Of Cubans During Cuban Independence Day

Cuban Independence Day was May 20 and people were definitely celebrating the day that Cuba declared their independence from Spain. However, while people danced, drank, and partied in the name of Cuba, others questioned the significance of the day considering the government of the island nation is still Communist.

May 20th was Cuban Independence Day and, of course, there were several celebrations.

The Cuban Revolution was in full force in the 1890s when Cuban nationals started to fight back against the Spanish rule. By 1895, the Spanish government sent 100,000 soldiers to Cuba to squash the revolution. Yet, the post-Civil War United States decided to get involved in a fight on behalf of the Cuban people and Cuban independence. The United States did take control over Cuba after the war with Spain’s rule in Cuba was over in 1898 and by May 20, 1902, the Republic of Cuba was born.

Cuba earned its independence from Spain in 1898 following a 5-year war. The United states stepped in during the war to help free Cuba from Spain’s hold on the island nation and the U.S. maintained their control of the island until 1902 when Cuba became a self-governed republic.

There were small memorializing services like the rededication of 22nd Ave. in Miami to Generalísimo Máximo Gomez Ave.

Generalísimo Máximo Gomez fought in two wars in Cuba. He first fought in the Ten Years’ War and then joined in the fight for the revolution and independence of Cuba later.

People even reacted to Trump’s Cuban Independence Day statement.

“Today, we remember patriots like José Martí, who devoted himself to making Cuba an economically competitive and politically autonomous nation,” reads Trump’s statement. “He reminds us that cruel despotism cannot extinguish the flame of freedom in the hearts of Cubans, and that unjust persecution cannot tamper Cubans’ dreams for their children to live free from oppression. The Cuban people deserve a government that peacefully upholds democratic values, economic liberties, religious freedoms, and human rights, and my Administration is committed to achieving that vision.”

But the celebrations on social media were paralleled with the reality of what Cuban people face.

Despite the U.S. attempting to normalize ties with Cuba, Cuba continues to be a Communist country with Raúl Castro, Fidel Castro’s brother, still calling the shots. Raúl is currently the president, the first secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba, and he is the head of the Cuban military.

Many people echoed this sentiment of wanting true freedom and democracy for the Cuban people including Esteban Bovo, the Chairman of the Board of County Commissioners for Miami-Dade County.

Ana Navarro tweeted on the day to remind everyone that even though U.S. policy toward Cuba is changing, it is still a country ran by a regime that oppresses human rights.

The Human Rights Watch reports that the beatings, public shaming, and the firing of all those who dissent and question the government publicly have increased since the U.S. began softening their stance. The Human Rights Watch reports that the Cuban government still relies on arbitrary arrests of political opponents, critics of the government, and independent journalists. An example The Human Rights Watch points to is the arrest of about 300 political dissidents in advance of President Obama’s visit in March 2016.

While no one tried to say not to celebrate Cuban Independence Day, they did ask that those celebrating think about what is left to make Cuba the democracy Cubans and Cuban-Americans crave.

In the words of Pitbull from his “Fate Of The Furious” single “Hey Ma” featuring J Balvin and fellow Cuban Camila Cabello: “Pa’lante con la libertad de Cuba/Y que la isla entera suba.” (“Forward with the liberty of Cuba/And that the whole island rises up.”)

READ: Gay Activists Met In Havana To Talk Cuban LGBTQ Rights

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Spanish Actor Javier Bardem Will Be Playing Cuban Entertainer Desi Arnaz in a New Movie and Fans Wish Hollywood Cast a Latino Instead


Spanish Actor Javier Bardem Will Be Playing Cuban Entertainer Desi Arnaz in a New Movie and Fans Wish Hollywood Cast a Latino Instead

Images via Getty

Recently, it was announced that Amazon studios will be producing a movie based on the lives of groundbreaking Old Hollywood power couple Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. According to reports, Nicole Kidman is set to play Ball while Spanish actor Javier Bardem will be playing Arnaz.

Seeing as Arnaz is widely viewed as one of the first Latino actors to achieve mainstream success in the United States, this news was positive for many. But for others, the news was less than ideal.

Some critics are lambasting the decision to cast Bardem as Arnaz, seeing that Bardem was born and raised in Spain, and is therefore not Latino.

One disgruntled Twitter user wrote: “I guess it’s really hard to find a Cuban actor so you have to hire a Spaniard…Whitewashing can happen to Latinos too.”

The criticism around Hollywood relying on Spanish actors and actresses to play Latino roles is not a new one. For years, Spanish actors like Antonio Banderas, Penelope Cruz, and Paz Vega have played Latino characters in American movies. The preponderance of this phenomenon have led some people to accuse Hollywood of “white washing” Latino characters by casting Spanish actors.

Antonio Banderas is one of the most famous examples of a Spanish actor who built his career off of playing Latinos.

He has played Latinos for so long that many people think he is, in fact, Latino. But when he was erroneously called a “person of color” by American publications when he was nominated for an Oscar in 2020, there was quiet the outcry in Spain.

Spanish publications condemned American media for having an “absurd obsession” with race, and not understanding that Spaniards are, in fact, white.

Publications wrote arguments like: “Banderas might pass as a Latino ‘person of color,’ to an Arkansas farmer, great-grandson of Germans, but never to a California delivery man born to Guatemalan immigrants.”

To some observers, it seems that Hollywood prefers casting Europeans as Latinos because Hollywood sees Europe as more “sophisticated” than Latinidad.

25-year-old Spaniard Juan Pedro Sánchez, summed up the problem on Twitter, saying: “A lot of people in Spain are bothered if others confuse them for Latin American because Spaniards see Latinos as people of color, and they don’t want to be associated with that.”

He went on to say: “What bothers me is not being considered a person of color, but that people ignore that Spain was a colonizer country. It erases that history.”

The bottom line is, fans are frustrated that Hollywood keeps looking to European actors to cast Latin American characters.

Study after study shows that there is still a stubborn lack of representation for Latinos onscreen. And when there is finally a role that puts a Latino character front and center, Hollywood prefers to hire a European actor over a Latino one.

Javier Bardem is an exceptionally talented actor and there’s no doubt that he will tackle the role of Desi Arnaz with creativity and dedication–but fans’ frustrations at the casting choice doesn’t have to do with Bardem’s acting capabilities. It has to do with the all of the ways that Latinos are discounted–including professionally.

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Trump Labels Cuba A State Sponsor Of Terrorism As His Own Supporters Face Similar Allegations

Things That Matter

Trump Labels Cuba A State Sponsor Of Terrorism As His Own Supporters Face Similar Allegations

Yander Zamora/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

In a move that is sure to complicate things for the incoming Biden administration, Trump has moved to put Cuba back on the list of nations that allegedly sponsor terrorism.

Obama had taken Cuba off of that list in 2015 and with four years to Cuba back on the list, many agree that Trump has simply put Cuba back on the list to make life difficult for President Biden.

The Trump administration has put Cuba back on the list of countries that “sponsor terrorism.”

With just days left in office, Trump has moved to label Cuba as a “state sponsor of terrorism” in a last-minute move that is sure to complicate things for the incoming Biden administration.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo justified the controversial move which reverses Barack Obama’s 2015 decision to remove Cuba from the list after more than three decades – by accusing Havana of “repeatedly providing support for acts of international terrorism in granting safe harbour to terrorists”.

Pompeo also alleged Cuba was engaging “in a range of malign behavior across the region”, highlighting its support for Venezuela’s authoritarian leader Nicolás Maduro who Trump has unsuccessfully tried to overthrow.

The controversial step places Cuba alongside Iran, North Korea and Syria as state sponsors of terror.

However, most officials agree that Trump’s claims about Cuba are bogus.

Many international observers – including U.S. allies – aren’t impressed by the administration’s claims that Cuba is sponsoring terrorism.

In an interview with The Guardian, Christopher Sabatini, a senior fellow for Latin America at Chatham House, said “These are trumped up charges. Terrorism as an international definition is committing acts of violence against unarmed civilians intended to frighten the population. Cuba doesn’t do that. Yes, it represses its own people – but so does Saudi Arabia.”

Groups that favor greater U.S. engagement with Cuba criticized the announcement.

“There is no compelling, factual basis to merit the designation,” according to Ric Herrero, executive director of the Cuba Study Group, a Washington DC-based organization that supports engagement with the island. “Instead it appears to be another shameless, last-ditch effort to hamstring the foreign policy of the incoming Biden administration and set the stage for the next election in Florida, all at the expense of the Cuban people and relations between our countries.”

Many observers agree that Trump’s move is simply a gift to party hardliners in Florida, and likely a deliberate attempt to make life difficult for the incoming Biden administration who may wish to end deténte with Cuba.

Of course, Cuban officials reacted angrily to the announcement.

After the announcement, Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez tweeted: “We condemn the US announced hypocritical and cynical designation of #Cuba as a State sponsoring terrorism. The US political opportunism is recognized by those who are honestly concerned about the scourge of terrorism and its victims.”

Reversing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s action would require the Biden administration to certify to Congress that there has been a fundamental change in leadership in Cuba and that the government is not supporting acts of international terrorism, has not for the previous six months and will not do so in the future.

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