publicidad

A poet's perspective: Cuba, Trump and democracy

A poet's perspective: Cuba, Trump and democracy

Obama's inaugural poet, Richard Blanco, reflects on last week's dramatic shift in U.S. policy towards Cuban immigrants, as well as Donald Trump and democracy.

A poet's perspective: Cuba, Trump and democracy Univision

In 2009 Cuban-American poet Richard Blanco became the fifth inaugural poet. He was the first Hispanic as well as the first openly gay man to read at a presidential inauguration.

Blanco grew up in Miami and was also invited to write a poem for the August 2015 reopening of the U.S. embassy in Havana, Cuba. His poem was entitled ' Matters of the Sea.'

He recently came by the Univision studio to offer a literary perspective on the inauguration of Donald Trump, as well as the announcement by the Obama adminsitration to rescind the so-called 'wet foot, dry foot' policy that for decades has granted residency, almost automatically, to Cuban migrants who reach U.S. soil.

Univision News: As a past inaugural poet, how do you see the current transition of power from President Obama to President Trump?

Richard Blanco: I'm looking at it through language, and that's what I don't like, the degradation of language, of rhetoric. As a poet that’s what you are always looking it. There’s language of hope and optimism and building futures together, on the one hand. Then there’s language of division, and racism and misogyny and all the rest. I don’t like the language that’s coming out of the Trump presidency.

I pause and think sometimes, I just chuckle, because only in America could this happen. It puts a little smile on my face for about one second. If there's anything that I learned from the inuaguration it's that incredible transfer of power is something that is just really at the cornerstone, the very foundation, of who we are as a nation. It’s palpable. Look how this pendulum swung. Yes, we are writing poems and being vigilant and doing protests, but the world is not falling apart. We are moving with it and seeing what happens. I'm watching that too. That doesn’t mean the system is infallible. There could be one swing of the pendulum that goes too far and that’s what we are all watching.

publicidad

UN: In your poem, 'Election Year,' published two days before the election, you use the allegory of a garden invaded by weeds and a killer vine. You ask the question will the garden live or die? Is that your concern in poetic terms that there is a threat to the garden of democracy?

RB: I come to poetry - people come to poetry - because the arts scratch below the surface, they ask different questions that try to get some place else that is not what we always see in the black and white world. So during Trump’s candidacy I started to write a poem for his inauguration, as a sort of spoof, never thinking he would be elected. I couldn’t do it, because there was no nuance, there was nothing fresh I could say. So I started digging deeper and deeper. The only thing I had was language and I came up with an allegory of a garden, and the garden was a democracy.

Gardens are a very artificial concept. Gardens don’t exist in nature. In a way, every social construct is artifice. We agree on these rules and at the same time we have to maintain those rules. That's the idea of the garden and our role as gardeners in a democracy, to always be on top of the garden, so to speak, but also know that sometimes the garden is just going to go crazy. So the poem is about where we are now ... we failed to tend the garden perhaps the way we should have earlier on. Democracy is only as strong as our contribution to it. I don’t blame any one person, I just think it’s a systemic issue that we are all thinking about now. At the end of the day democracy is not perfect. There’s cracks in it. A garden is not perfect.

The weed I intended to mean not necessarily just Trump, but anything that creeps into the garden. What do we do when that happens? It's the hope and despair we face sometimes when you are gardening. The weeds are still coming up. When do you give up? It’s a constant struggle, just like in a democracy. It's a constant planting and weeding.

UN: Last week the Obama administration announced the end of the so-called ‘wet foot, dry foot’ policy that for decades granted almost automatic residency to Cubans who reached US soil. Some people say 'wet foot, dry foot' was being exploited by people who left for economic, not political reasons. In 2015 you wrote a poem, Matter of the Sea,' for the reopening of the US embassy in Cuba. You wrote; “Not even the sea can keep us from one another….” Do you still believe that after the rules changed?

RB: That poem was very symbolic. Despite political divisions the bonds of family and people are actually the solution to some of these issues. I grew up with half a family in Cuba. We are one people still. That sea wall that divides us is actually what unites us, because it's actually water, it’s not a wall.

So, when it comes to the rejection of 'wet foot, dry foot,' I think there always been a lot of questioning about that. My entire family, all my cousins, have come from Cuba by all sorts of different way and means. When I speak to my cousins there is part of it that is, I won't say economic, it’s about the freedom to pursue prosperity, the ability to get a job and have fair wages and where a government is for the people, and by the people. I think that's what they are running away from.

publicidad

There is also an abstract notion in my head. Castro has always had an escape valve for everything. Whenever the heat in the pressure cooker gets too high, they find a way to have a release valve. I think this idea of 'wet foot, dry foot' has always been an escape valve. If you think of the courage it takes for some of these men and woman and children to make that journey, you can hope, in an abstract way, if they don’t have that option perhaps something will shift in Cuba.

A bilingual edition of Richard Blanco’s poetry book was published recently.

publicidad
publicidad
A search for the word 'deportation' on platforms like GoFundMe and YouCaring brings up hundreds of people raising money to support family members and friends.
Immigrants advocacy groups report 300 shootings aboard the train known as the The Beast. Migrant victims point to security guards hired by the government.
They grew up in Chicago and their husbands, the Flores twins (aka ‘Los Mellizos’), worked for the Sinaloa cartel. The twins later became DEA informants in Mexico who helped bring down El Chapo Guzman. They have written a book, Cartel Wives, telling their story as a lesson to others not to fall for the narco life, and they regret what they put their families through. "Our fathers put on their suit of armor and their badge, and they are going out there on the streets of Chicago,” Mia confesses. “It’s the very same streets that our husbands were flooding with drugs.”
The Rio Abajo bridge was swept away leaving the town of Utuado cut off. Neighbors engineered a pulley system to haul supplies over the river but they wonder when their lives will return to any semblance of normality.
A scene form the new documentary A Long Way From Home about the desegregation of professional baseball.
Actor Eduardo Yáñez was responding to a question about his son at an event in Los Angeles, leaving everybody around him stunned. Reporter Paco Fuentes asked the actor about a GoFundMe page his son posted asking for help to pay for car repairs, rather than seeking the money from his dad. The actor later apologized via Twitter.
Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz reacted to comments on Twitter by President Trump in which he said Puerto Ricans “want everything done for them."
It is estimated that there are almost as many Puerto Ricans living off the island as the 3.4 million that reside there. After Hurricane Maria, almost all communication was lost between those on the island and in the diaspora. Univision sent a reporting team to the island before Maria's arrival. Part of their job now is helping connect families.
Two reporters from Univision News followed the track of Hurricane Maria, starting from the southeast where the eye made landfall all the way to the capital. This is what they saw from the road ...
An "extremely dangerous" Category 4 hurricane, Maria made landfall near Yabucoa in southeast Puerto Rico, causing widespread flooding across the U.S. territory of 3.4 million inhabitants. Maria caused rivers to flood all over the island. This video was taken in Guayama, on the south coast.
After a strong earthquake shook Mexico City, thousands of people evacuated their homes. The epicenter was 7.5 miles southeast of Axochiapan, in the state of Morelos.
Had Irma tracked 50 miles further north along Cuba's coast, the results could have been dramatically different, meteorologists say, causing devastation to the densely populated Greater Miami region. Also by tracking up Florida's west coast close to the shoreline deprived Irma of the warm Gulf water that fuels storms. Here is a compilation of the hurricane satellite images shared by NASA on social media.
The program was established in 2012 by President Barack Obama to protect certain undocumented immigrants from deportation.
Nilsa Huete is an undocumented Honduran immigrant living in Key West, Florida. In the last five months, five of her family members have been arrested by agents from the Monroe County Sheriff's Office. Now she’s fighting against the deportation of her daughter and brother.
Christopher Barker, leader of the 'Loyal White Knights' of the Ku Klux Klan and his wife Amanda Barker discussed their views on President Donald Trump during an exclusive interview for Aquí y Ahora.
That's what Christopher Barker, leader of the KKK's 'Loyal White Knights,' told Univision's late night news anchor in an interview for Aquí y Ahora. "To me you're a ni**er," he added.
Lo más visto de la semana: la reacción de Michelle al conocer a su hermanito, y Myrka defiende las fotos en bikini de su hija
Además, lo que tiene qué decir Lalo Santamarina del divorcio de Itatí, el video de Alan que hizo llorar a Satcha y Alejandra Espinoza quedó impresionada con la barriguita de Ana. No te quedes sin ver los videos más vistos de la semana.
Captamos el momento en que el pequeño Matteo llamó a su mamá, y quedó fascinado al verse en la tele
Mientras se preparaba para salir en el programa, Alejandra Espinoza recordó que cuando ella estaba embarazada tenía una pancita muy parecida a la de Ana. Además, la conductora recibió una videollamada de su hijo, que estaba muy feliz al saber que saldría en la tele.
Embellece tu cabello con remedios a base de hierbas
No te quedes sin ver la siguiente lista de hierbas y plantas que ayudarán a que tu cabello se mantenga saludable, brillante y sedoso de la raíz a la punta.
publicidad
Una niña muere y cuadras de una vecindario son evacuadas tras la explosión de una casa en Dallas
Estudiantes de la primaria Stephen C. Foster fueron desalojados por precaución. A vecinos de la zona se les ordenó evacuar luego del siniestro que mandó a cinco personas al hospital, incluyendo la niña de 12 años. La compañía de gas Atmos estaba en el lugar, señalaron los bomberos.
Detienen en Florida a Frederik Barbieri, considerado el mayor traficante de armas de Brasil
El gobierno brasileño pidió la extradición de Barbieri, tras ser detenido por ICE en su residencia, según la agencia de noticias de ese país. Autoridades señalan que es el cabecilla detrás de los 60 fusiles de guerra que fueron incautados en junio en el aeropuerto de Río de Janeiro.
Los demócratas publican un memo para rebatir las acusaciones de los republicanos contra la investigación del FBI
El documento intenta desmentir la versión republicana, que denunció supuestos abusos de las autoridades en la investigación del escándalo 'Rusiagate'. El presidente Trump bloqueó su publicación semanas atrás, pero tras suprimir algunos detalles, fue publicado este sábado.
Tras el aumento de suicidios en Puerto Rico, consejeros visitan a víctimas del huracán María
El programa Anímate busca brindar apoyo psicológico a las personas afectadas por el paso del ciclón, muchos todavía sin electricidad y con grandes pérdidas materiales y emocionales.
Jonas comanda voltereta del Benfica ante el Paços de Ferreira
El delantero brasileño fue pieza clave para que las Águilas volvieran en el marcador de visitantes; Raúl Jiménez jugó 31 minutos.
¡Dénles el título de una vez! Barcelona aplastó 6-1 al Girona en La Liga
Con arsenal completo, el club catalán no tuvo piedad ante los albirrojos y se afianzó aún más en la cima de la clasificación.
Julio César Chávez asegura que el Gallo Estrada es mejor que Canelo Álvarez
El máximo ídolo del boxeo mexicano hizo una comparación entre ambos pugilistas aztecas y tuvo un claro ganador.
Con 'hat-trick' de Suárez y recital de Messi, el Barcelona golea 6-1 al Girona
Los azulgranas llegaron a 65 puntos y siguen líderes invictos en La Liga.