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Cuba U: Beyond "Cuba sí, Castro no."

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There's a plenitude of grizzled, cigar-sucking men lending their play-by-play to Cuban politics. Twenty-one year old Monica Simo, who grew up in Miami and now works as a banking analyst in New York City, hopes to add some youth to that long-running conversation.

Last month, she started, La Primera Generación, where she's been documenting her personal and endearing quest for answers about Cuba. "What better way to learn from people who are passionate enough about the issues to scour the Internet every day? I know I'm incredibly naive (and honestly, I think that's part of the charm...)." She plans to interview her father about his political past over a plate of bistec de palomilla at Versailles when she returns to Miami over Christmas.

In her first post, Simo said her Cuban family never really took time educate her about Cuba: "Sure, I knew, 'Cuba sí, Castro no,' but that was about it ... When I was 13 and Elian was all over the news, I was just one of maybe two Cubans in the classroom. When the topic came up in Civics class, I couldn't defend myself against the rednecks from Homestead."

Simo, who studied at MIT, told Riptide that once Cuban-Americans leave Miami "we are advocates of the Cuban plight, whether we like it or not." By talking about freedom restrictions in Cuba, she hopes to convince her friends in the chilly Northeast to stop buying those Cuban cigars or finding ways to sneak getaways to the island.

"Without me, they probably wouldn't have had any idea," she said. "In some cases, we may have to defend our views. Like I mentioned in one of my first posts, back in Miami all I knew was "Cuba sí, Castro no." Outside of Miami, that's not enough to sway anyone." -- Janine Zeitlin

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