Thursday, March 20, 2008

Gusanos no more

When my family left Cuba in 1971 because my parents had had enough of Fidel Castro, his politics and the economic mess he had managed to create in a little over a decade, we were called gusanos - parasites.

We were also told that since we had "betrayed" the Motherland, we would never, ever be welcomed back - and be careful of what you do and say en el exterior because there may be "repercussions" for family members left behind.

And much as it hurt initially to be called a gusano - I was 11 or 12 at the time - I became rather fond of the term over time and wore it with a certain amount of pride. After all, we had nothing to lose.

Well, it seems I was wrong all along.

According to the Cuban Minister for Foreign Affairs, Felipe Perez Roque, the 1.3 million Cubans who, like my family, have left the island one way or another over the past 49 years are not gusanos. Not even exiles. Now, we are "economic migrants".

Nice one, no?

This handy redefinition was raised by the minister during a meeting with a group of about 130 Cubans living outside the island - "economic migrants" one and all - who have been invited to Havana by the Castro regime to discuss pressing issues ... No, no, not the need for democratic change in Cuba, say, but really pressing issues like the US commercial embargo, the five spies currently in prison in the US, etc, etc.

In exchange for accepting the invitation, the thoroughly cynical Perez Roque has promised the "economic migrants" now in Havana that the regime will look at ways of simplifying the extensive (and expensive) paperwork required currently to visit family and relatives in Cuba.

Thanks for the offer, but no, thanks.


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