Faculty Publications
 

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2008

Excerpt

In Spain, when someone has misplaced their keys, you may hear 'mas se perdio en Cuba,' a tongue-in-cheek allusion to imperial Spain's hand-over of Cuba to the United States ("U.S.") in the Treaty of Paris, which ended (depending on where you stand) either the Spanish-American War or the Cuban War of Independence. Losses over Cuba feel fresher in Miami, home to many Cuban exiles and emigrants and their children. Losses beget claims-to indemnity and to moral recognition. Whether in Miami, Washington, or Havana, the question of Cuba is fraught with many such claims. First to come to mind are property claims to restitution based on the Cuban government's taking of property after the Cuban Revolution and the U.S.'s longstanding embargo against Cuba, which involves an analogous form of taking through political risk. Conjuring a tropical Bleak House, these claims belong to U.S. nationals, Cuban nationals, the Cuban government, the U.S. government, and others, and are subject to domestic law, foreign law, and public international law.

Even more complex than these property claims are the competing truth claims about what happened in Cuba because of the Revolution, how it affected those who stayed and, more importantly for this essay, what it meant for those who left to start a new life in the U.S. According to psychoanalysis, a person copes with major losses through "economic" processes in the psyche by which the loss lives on as an unsettled psychic item.' To me, it seems that many Cubans in diaspora remain engaged in these economic processes about their group losses after the Revolution. We Cuban-Americans have created an emotional memorial to these psychic losses. These claims have no formal settlement mechanism but they need airing and consideration too. It is of interest not only to Cuban-Americans but also to those concerned with how groups cope with collective losses and how the law and the losses interact.

The succession of Raul Castro to Fidel Castro as Cuba's President has left many wondering about the future of these claims, both the legal and the symbolic ones. Part I surveys the major legal and truth claims and their internal conflicts. Part II discusses how these conflicts may have retarded certain forms of Cuban-American identity, which still remain latent. Admittedly subjective, this essay suggests one way to bring some of these latent claims of Cuban-Americans into the open.