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La Lucha for Cuba

Religion and Politics on the Streets of Miami

Miguel A. De La Torre

Publication Year: 2003

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. In La 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 of la 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 of la lucha has become a distinctly Miami-style spirituality that makes el exilio (exile) the basis for religious reflection, understanding, and practice—and that conflates political mobilization with spiritual meaning in an ongoing confrontation with evil.

Published by: University of California Press

Cover

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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication, Quote

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pp. iii-vii

Contents

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p. ix-ix

List of Illustrations

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p. xi-xi

List of Abbreviations

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p. xiii-xiii

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Preface

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pp. xv-xix

The suggestion that an Exilic Cuban religious expression based on hatred exists is unsettling for many Miami Cubans, who demand absolute conformity in thought in order to present a united front against the “forces of evil.” Criticism of the Miami Cuban community is interpreted as support of the Castro regime. Anyone who criticizes the community’ ...

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1. An Ajiaco Christianity

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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...

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2. La Lucha: The Religion of Miami

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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 ...

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3. Psalm 137: Constructing Cuban Identity while in Babylon

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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 ...

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4. Machismo: Creating Structures of Oppression

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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 ...

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5. The End of the Elián Saga: The Continuation of La Lucha

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pp. 118-139

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, ...

Notes

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pp. 141-159

References

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pp. 161-169

Index

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pp. 171-181

Production Notes

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p. 182-182


E-ISBN-13: 9780520930100
Print-ISBN-13: 9780520238527

Page Count: 200
Publication Year: 2003