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La Lucha for Cuba

La Lucha for Cuba: Religion and Politics on the Streets of Miami

Miguel A. De La Torre
Copyright Date: 2003
Edition: 1
Pages: 200
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  • Book Info
    La Lucha for Cuba
    Book Description:

    For many in Miami's Cuban exile community, hating Fidel Castro is as natural as loving one's children. This hatred, Miguel De La Torre suggests, has in fact taken on religious significance. InLa Lucha for Cuba,De La Torre shows how Exilic Cubans, a once marginalized group, have risen to power and privilege-distinguishing themselves from other Hispanic communities in the United States-and how religion has figured in their ascension. Through the lens of religion and culture, his work also unmasks and explores intra-Hispanic structures of oppression operating among Cubans in Miami. Miami Cubans use a religious expression,la lucha,or "the struggle," to justify the power and privilege they have achieved. Within the context ofla lucha,De La Torre explores the religious dichotomy created between the "children of light" (Exilic Cubans) and the "children of darkness" (Resident Cubans). Examining the recent saga of the Elián González custody battle, he shows how the cultural construction ofla luchahas become a distinctly Miami-style spirituality that makesel exilio(exile) the basis for religious reflection, understanding, and practice-and that conflates political mobilization with spiritual meaning in an ongoing confrontation with evil.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-93010-0
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. Preface
    (pp. xv-xx)
  6. CHAPTER 1 An Ajiaco Christianity
    (pp. 1-25)

    On Thanksgiving Day, 1999, while the United States feasted on the traditional turkey dinner, a small Cuban boy of five was found off the coast of Fort Lauderdale clinging to an inner tube. Within a few days, Elián González’s name became nationally known, as the boy emerged at the center of a furious custody battle between the Exilic and Resident Cuban communities.¹ Surrounding Elián’s new temporary Miami home, Catholics and Protestants, rich and poor, young and old gathered to pray. Signs written in blue beseeched the nation to “Pray for Elián.” Exilic Cubans held hands and surrounded the house to...

  7. CHAPTER 2 La Lucha: The Religion of Miami
    (pp. 26-51)

    Cuba is a fantasy island, an illusion, a construction of outsiders’ imaginations. The dream of Cuba, in one form or another, has lasted for centuries. This imaginary space becomes superimposed on the island as the viewer’s fantasies are projected onto Cuba as object. Yet these fantasies have nothing to do with Cuba’s reality. Alan West, an Exilic Cuban linguist, illustrates how such illusions have victimized the island and its people:

    From other shores, the island has been imagined and expressed in a series of more familiar discourses with a plethora of images: Pearl of the Antilles, tropical paradise, whorehouse of...

  8. CHAPTER 3 Psalm 137: Constructing Cuban Identity while in Babylon
    (pp. 52-80)

    The U.S. occupation of Cuba after the island’s 1898 war for independence brought in its wake economic domination by Euroamericans. The war created huge debt, providing cheap land and labor to U.S. capitalists, who were able to step in and replace the bankrupt Cuban ruling class. By paying back taxes, for example, they could easily acquire properties that had been foreclosed on. Through the Reciprocity Treaty signed in 1903, the now–defunct hegemonic Cuban ruling class was replaced by a Euroamerican elite. Overnight, the traditional oligarchies virtually disappeared (Donghi 1993, 202).

    Between 1909 and 1929, U.S. capital investment in Cuba...

  9. CHAPTER 4 Machismo: Creating Structures of Oppression
    (pp. 81-117)

    Historically, it has always been easy to blame Euroamericans for Cuba’s economic, social, and political situation. Yet not all Cuba’s woes can be attributed to the United States and its neoimperialism, or to the embargo, or even to global capitalism. José Martí advises, “[i] n Nuestra America [Our America] it is vital to know the truth about the United States. We should not exaggerate its faults purposely, out of a desire to deny it all virtue, nor should these faults be concealed or proclaimed as virtues” (1977, 49).

    In the previous chapter, I debunked fantasies of Cuban ethnicity, unmasking how...

  10. CHAPTER 5 The End of the Elián Saga: The Continuation of La Lucha
    (pp. 118-140)

    On Sunday, October 21, 2001, the small home in Little Havana where Elián González had stayed during his international custody battle was opened as a shrine to his memory. Unidos en Casa Elián (United in Elián’s House) attracted nearly five hundred people on its first day. Visitors were greeted with a picture hanging on the wall of Elián’s mother, Elizabeth Brotons, who died during their trip to the United States. A poster on another wall bears a picture of the boy with the caption “The Miracle Child.” Visitors can view hundreds of photographs of a happy Elián playing in the...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 141-160)
  12. References
    (pp. 161-170)
  13. Index
    (pp. 171-181)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 182-182)