Pride in Cuba
Patriotism can be defined as the love of one’s country. This is not to be confused with nationalism, which includes exalting one nation above all others and placing primary emphasis on promotion of its culture and interests. As an American, of course I feel affection for my country, as most people typically do. But I can also recognize how easy it is to slip into the belief that our country is the best country. Even, perhaps, that other countries would benefit by following similar schematics we follow in politics, economics, etc. This is where that patriotism turns more nationalism. That being said, I have found through my travels that many citizens in Cuba are immensely patriotic, without crossing that nationalistic line. Cuban people are full of a deep-rooted pride and love for their place of origin. They love to boast about their delectable cuisine, fascinating history, and impressive dance skills. Like us, they have their country’s flag flying high all around the island. However, they are also very willing to admit to the fact that their country is not perfect; in fact, they have many issues that face them at all times. There are shortages of all sorts of food items and supplies such as household items and clothing. Their sewage system cannot handle toilet paper, so instead it goes in the trashcan by the toilet. Internet is not widely accessible, so one must purchase a wifi card and go to a hotspot to get their limited time on-line. And, of course, Cubans struggle to make decent wages since there is still equal pay among all vocations except for many of those in the tourism sector.
Despite all of this, Cubans manage to remain hugely prideful of their country. What stuck with me the most about my trip to Cuba was something our translator Ana said, which was something along the lines of this: ‘Cuba might have it’s problems, and it might be a piece of trash, but it’s OUR trash. I am so proud to live here and be Cuban.’ Anyone could tell that this came from the heart because Ana had tears in her eyes by the end of her sentiment. Honestly, I could have teared up as well. I don’t know anyone here in the U.S that knows as much about their country as Ana does about hers. She knows every fact, every piece of history, every custom and piece of culture. It even seems like she knows every person in Cuba. And for every bit of information she knew, she relayed it while beaming with pride and love. This was consistent throughout the people on this island; no matter who you talked to, they were more than happy and willing to tell you about their country.
George Orwell once said that “patriotism is defensive: it is a devotion to a particular place and a way of life one thinks best, but has no wish to impose on others.” This quote perfectly aligns with the way Cubans view their country. They love it and wouldn’t want it any other way, but have no obligation to make other countries follow their way of life. They are content in themselves and it is absolutely refreshing to hear a group of people acknowledge their flaws but still love who they are.