A “Cubargie” is a Cuban born individual who was raised in Argentina. If living in Miami, as is my case, a Cubargie will never be deemed a Cuban-American -such is the strength of the Argie seal-, not even after spending thirty years in “The exiles’ Capital” as I have.
May 30th 2010 marked the 50th anniversary of my “Cuando salí de Cuba” experience, back in 1960, when I was eight years old. As the late and loved Luis Aguilé instructed us all, I left my heart behind, together with round-the-clock air conditioning, Color TV, traffic lights at every street corner, trash compacting trucks, and so many other things the Buenos Aires I met –and immediately loved- lacked. If Fidel’s absolution by history hinges upon a comparison between the Havana I left behind and the one I visited not too long ago, he is “fiambre”. The senselessness of this involution is one of the most perplexing items –and there are many others- in the legacy of “El Comandante”…
I learned to count time military style, which made sense, since for more than half the 20 years I spent in Argentina, the military ran it. But despite the occasional stresses that we had to live with, those years were my formative years, and even if I ended up finding the beaten path to Fantasyland, my present hometown, I still have this fantasy about walking every evening into a de-materializing machine that reconstructs me at La Biela –at 19 hs. sharp- and takes me back to Miami by dawn.
And it is not just the life-style that I still crave. It is also the need to be closer to that mix of angst and pride that every Argie lives with, since idiosyncratically and in my soul, that’s who I am.
I love Cuba dearly too, and being Argie raised has helped me love it –and understand it, I believe- as well or even better than many of my Cuban-American relatives, friends and neighbors. Growing up in Buenos Aires gave me a “visión del mundo” or world-view that I would hardly have had I been raised in the USA, and that I would sorely miss if I did not have.
Of course, it is not all roses, this business of being a Cubargie. I have heard –and being the butt of- every single Argie joke you can imagine. But I can think of no better assessment of “Cubarginess” than the one provided by a couple of lawyers in the Dominican Republic a few years back when I had to explain to them why the Cuban-American colleague they were expecting had this unexpected heavy Argentinean accent: they looked at each other and, said “Cubano Y Argentino??!!”, and as if in a choreographed move, they both made the sign of the cross…
José Manuel Palli is Cuban born lawyer, originally trained as such in Argentina and a member of the Florida Bar since 1985. He is President of World Wide Title and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org