In November of 1999, Elian Gonzalez had the nation holding its breath when he arrived in the United States after his long journey from Cuba.
The little boy’s struggle to stay in the United States became a political fight that can be compared to the way Cuban politics have played out in the past, said Damian Fernandez, author of Cuba and the Politics of Passion.
Fernandez used his book as the basis for his lecture Monday night about the loss of romanticism in politics between the United States and Cuba.
Fernandez said the case of Gonzalez should be analyzed in a different way.
“Understood as a metaphor, Elian Gonzalez helps us see salient dimensions of how Cubans, both those on the island and those in the diaspora, relate to the politics,” Fernandez said.
Fernandez explained that in looking at the case and the history of Cuban culture, he has found some key themes or “codes.”
“The Elian case found the politics of passion translated a large custody battle of an immigration issue into a struggle between the revolution and the contractors,” Fernandez said, adding that the Cuban people saw this as a struggle between good and evil.
Fernandez said people who still live in Cuba have lost faith in the institutions that have existed since the revolution.
“The arguments is that these types of cultural norms will tend to be replicated into the future,” Fernandez said. “The politics of passion serve to shroud a hidden political position.”