I had mixed feelings about Francisco Alvarado's article, 'Soy Nicaraguense - I am a Nicaraguan by the grace of God'.
I sympathize with Mr. Alvarado's identification with the country he left to the Sandinistas at age 4, partly because his parents feared execution - his grandmother represented the Somoza dynasty's "liberal" party. After thirty years of stories about his homeland, he wanted to go home again, and he did so, and while there his grandmother recounted the glorious visits to the Somoza compound, wishing she had never gone to
I too went home after thirty years of absence - from
Kansas -and I hope to go home again to other fine states where I lived, such as
New York, Alaska, and
Hawaii. As for Nicaragua, I too would love to take a vacation there, despite the poverty and related criminality mentioned by Mr. Alvarado, who said life in
Miami had prepared him for the experience; but the magnitude of bad circumstances was greater in
Nicaragua, where he might have wind up selling "crap" on the corner if he had not emigrated to the
United States. Of course many immigrants have had to sell crap on
Miami corners; but the conditions, including pay, are much better. Still, I believe I would enjoy writing a little book in
Granada, the oldest Spanish town in Central America, taking up residence in a quaint hotel for three months or so.
Mr. Alvarado returned to the "grind" of life in Miami in one piece, and writes that he wished he had gone home to Nicaragua sooner, that he envies his cousins because of their understanding of Nicaraguan culture; and now the Nicaraguan part of him wants to retire to die in Nicaragua. Such "wishful dreaming... happens when you visit a magical place like home," he observes. No doubt some of magic is derived from the myths told in exile, particularly about the good old days under Batista - excuse me, I mean the Somoza dynasty's forty-three year reign of terror.
Indeed, there is no place like home, and perhaps you really can't go home again no matter how many times you return after a prolonged absence.
"After nearly three decades of being ambivalent about my birthplace," concludes Mr. Alvarado, "I am more than proud to repeat a line familiar to all Nicas: Soy nicaraguensa por la gracia de dios."
I share his historical ambivalence, especially as a resident of
Miami, for too many
Miami residents are entitled to ethnic or alien roots I have no immediate claim to, and I envy them, and feel like a gringo or stranger in my own country. The homogenous mass culture of the
United States no longer suffices for much of its population, although the whole world still loves its contemporary trash culture. It is once again the fashion to be a hyphenated American, or a Cuban-American man, or an African-American woman, and so on.
In fact, I get just as sick and tired of North American culture as my Argentinean-American friends, who believe their frustrated-Italian culture is far superior to my "stupid" indigenous culture - my old roommate, a Russian-American exile, said the same thing, frequently remarking on the gross ignorance of Americans.
Oh, one of my young Cuban-American acquaintances is not so arrogantly insecure: he laughed at the notion that Cubans are the Latino Chosen People, even though Cuban immigrants are given precedence by the
United States due to the Red Scare. He insists that his elders from
Cuba are red-blooded "rednecks." Of course many Miamians complain that Cubans run
South Florida, but so what? Didn't
Cuba used to own Florida?
But yes, I must admit it: my American culture is vulgar. That is why I prefer to identify myself as a world citizen, at risk of being called a socialist or worse. Still, I must say that I sometimes resent the fact that
America does not seem to be good enough for Hyphenated Americans and many others who naturally want to return to one womb or another. I am a Gringo American, and by the grace of Uncle Sam I live in the beautiful city of
Miami, thank you very much. So please give me another cafe con leche and an empanada.
Bio: David Arthur Walters is an independent journalist and is known as one of the most provocative controversialists on the Internet.