Monday, March 10, 2008

Reality check on Cuba

What happens when a Cuban-American stages an unvarnished play about life in the Caribbean dictatorship? She runs up against a wall of denial about the island.

Ms. Peláez, a Cuban-American actress, was born in this country and raised in Miami. She came to New York in 1993 to study acting. In the mid-’90s, she traveled to Cuba to explore the world of her great-aunt, Amelia Peláez, a noted painter who died in 1968. All those experiences pulse through “Rum & Coke,” a one-woman show in which she channels relatives on both sides of the Florida Straits and weary Habaneros stuck on an island forgotten by the outside world.

The play was her retort to the fascination with Che T-shirts, solidarity tours to Cuba and the endless praise of the revolution’s twin pillars of health and education.

“When I started writing the play, I thought people just didn’t know what was happening in Cuba,” she said after the show closed its monthlong New York run last week. “But the longer I live here, the more I realized, they don’t care.” ...

“They would rather keep their little pop revolution instead of saying it is a dictatorship,” Ms. Peláez said. “I had somebody come to me after a show and say, ‘Don’t ruin Cuba for me!’ Well, why not? They’re holding on to a fantasy.”

More here from the New York Times about the disconnect Cuban refugees find between the reality that they know and the fantasies that many "progressive" Americans insist on maintaining.

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