I often wonder how much an ordinary US citizen must suffer when all over the world he hears the shouts, or reads the words “Yankee, go home”.
How much worse must be the feelings of US uniformed military in any of the Third World countries that has suffered frequent invasions, occupations, bombings and the resulting killings of inhabitants who could be relatives of any citizen in the country where they are. In these countries, indignation frequently reaches justified extremes and uncontrollable reactions against American military.
When I was a very small boy, during the World War II era, I liked the US military.
My mother worked as a salesperson on commission at a shop owned by Chinese traders in Havana called La Valencia. The shop sold mostly to tourists. My father used to “draw” US military, who at the time were the only foreign visitors who could be allured in Havana, so that my mother could make them customers of La Valencia and get the sales commission.
As a norm, the officers and enlisted men stationed in American military bases in Cuba at the time came from well-off families. They had enough clout to be stationed far from the battlefields and relatively close to their homes.
Consequently, most of the US officers and privates I heard of were generous and nice. Their contributions, through purchases at the shop of the Chinese, represented the main income of my family.
My father could speak English quite well, because he came from a family of cigar workers who used to transfer every year to the United States during the “tiempo muerto” [literally "dead time" when there was no production] to find temporary employment in the cigar factories of Key West, or Tampa, in Florida. They travelled in flimsy vessels that did the voyage and his mother (my grandmother) would carry a sewing machine to contribute by working as a seamstress to help support the family.
When the war ended, we all moved –my father, mother, my brother and I- to Tampa where we stayed for nine months. Later, my parents tried to remain in the United States permanently, but could not get the necessary visa. Plans changed and we returned to Cuba.
This was a happy event for my brother and I because in Ybor City, the neighborhood for Blacks and Latinos where we lived, we had to experience many incidents of racial discrimination and xenophobia and some abuse from the military who -with helmets and machine guns- patrolled the frequent drills known as “blackouts” and imposed the concealment measures that we Black and Latino children often challenged.
In the last years of the decade of the 1940s, a shameful event took place: a group of drunken US marines climbed the statue of Jose Marti in Parque Central and urinated on it. All Cubans felt a righteous anger and I also felt certain guilt for having liked the young American military I had met at La Valencia.
Now, after experiencing the harsh insurrectional struggle against a dictatorship supported by US military advisers in the armed forces and police, and more than half a century of hostility and threats of aggression from the government in Washington against the Revolution in power, I have understood that it is not the military –the human beings- to blame for all the crimes against the peoples in the world, including the American people- but the oligarchic cupola based in Wall Street that should be the target of global repudiation.
Today I understand that our rejection and struggle against imperialism should not be expressed through the burning of US flags or insults to their military, politicians, diplomats and other representatives. It's far more effective to raise demands or carry out of actions that directly affect the interests of the big banking, media, trade and industry transnational corporations that drive the world at their convenience today.
A CubaNews translation.
Edited by Walter Lippmann.
* Manuel E. Yepe is a lawyer, economist and journalist. He is a professor at the Higher Institute of International Relations in Havana. He was Cuba's ambassador to Romania, general director of the Prensa Latina agency; vice president of the Cuban Institute of Radio and Television; founder and national director of the Technological Information System (TIPS) of the United Nations Program for Development in Cuba, and secretary of the Cuban Movement for the Peace and Sovereignty of the Peoples.
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