The Great Divide

Correspondence from our readers

And we forgive you for loving freedom, for risking your lives to come to a city we take for granted and often despise. But sometimes we don't think you get the most important benefit of freedom: the right to disagree. We get the impression that some of you wouldn't object to a dictator who held the right opinions.

But we will forgive you for being too Cuban, as you have so humbly requested. We have no choice. You are our friends and partners, our wives and husbands. Your blood runs in the veins of our sons and daughters, even our grandchildren. So don't get mad and go away when you finally regain your homeland. Stick around for a while. We've gotten used to you. All we ask is that you find it in your hearts to someday, somehow forgive us for being too American.

Doug Shear
Miami

This letter is directed to Jorge Benitez Sagol, who resides in Richmond, Virginia, from the traffic congestion and rock-throwing Cubans cause whenever there is a problem in South Florida due to the United States of America.

Forgive us for taking you in so you may have a better life. Forgive us for giving you shelter and food stamps so you may exist while you seek employment. Forgive us for not pissing on your flag. Forgive us for not understanding that Cubans think they have more rights than others. Forgive our anger when it's difficult to get to and from work because of Cuban demonstrations. Forgive us our feelings of anger when loved ones do not get home until after midnight because Cubans are blocking the MacArthur Causeway. Forgive us for paying taxes so the government can clean up after all your demonstrations. Forgive our anger at the Cuban elected officials who are so corrupt the whole country is laughing at us.

Forgive me, but I wish all the money we have spent on Elian Gonzalez had been spent instead to send Cubans back to Cuba to re-evaluate themselves. And you, Mr. Benitez Sagol, stay in Virginia and watch all the Cuban demonstrations on TV in the comfort of your home.

Forgive me for expressing my opinion and for being an American.

Karla Hudson-Vassell
Miami Beach

I know that being an American means different things to different people, so I would like to express what it means to me, in my own "Forgive Us for Being American" letter.

Forgive us for being proud of our country. Forgive our ancestors who gave their lives (more than 500,000 killed in action) in major world wars in order that many Cuban people could raft to freedom. Forgive America for opening its arms so thousands of refugees could have food, clothes, education, housing, and medical care before they ever worked a day in this country.

Forgive us for not inventing Cuban toast, Cuban coffee, pastelitos, and frijoles negros, all of which we survived without until your arrival. Forgive us for not recognizing earlier the benefits of clogged arteries and irritable bowel syndrome. Forgive us Americans for having to witness firsthand the prejudice you display toward other Hispanics, other cultures, but more important the Americans who gave you a safe haven from communist Cuba.

Forgive us for feeling some resentment when we frequent businesses on American soil and are not able to communicate because so many Cuban people refuse to learn English. Forgive us for creating successful corporations such as Coca-Cola and General Motors and giving you the opportunity to have a successful career in them. Forgive us for embracing your talented actors, musicians, and artists, for without the support of Americans they would not be where they are today. It wasn't Cuba or the Miami Cubans who put Gloria Estefan on Star Island.

Forgive us for thinking that should there be another major war, we could count on the Cuban community for support, as we have witnessed firsthand how you abandon your birthplace rather than fight for freedom. Forgive us for believing that freedom is something worth protecting, worth fighting for. Forgive us for risking our lives in battle for our freedom, not risking our lives at sea for freedom that was handed to us on a silver platter.

Forgive us for being bitter when we see a group of people to whom we have given that freedom rip up our flag in our faces. Forgive us for not sharing your enthusiasm for your communist flag, the flag that is the symbol of oppression and communism, as you say.

Forgive us for feeling that if we have somehow let you down, you are welcome to leave at any time. Forgive us for believing that America is a land of laws that must be obeyed by all. Forgive us for wanting you to respect all that we have made possible for you. Thank you in advance for your forgiveness.

J. E. Tyson
Coconut Grove

After reading the letter from Jorge Benitez Sagol, I was convinced it was a put-on. So I decided to pen an equally divisive and misguided rant of my own. Here goes:

I forgive you for being too ethnocentric, too obtuse, too myopic, and too strident. Welcome to our soil. We call this place the USA. I also welcome your Afro-Cuban brothers and sisters. May they learn to assimilate and lawfully and peacefully coexist with those of us fortunate enough to already be here.

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