En Candela—Venezuelans Take to the Streets Burning Cuban Flags

          Venezuela has been going through some major political turmoil the past few weeks. The protestors, mainly students, are lashing out against the government — for the most part against recently (barely) elected President, Nicolas Maduro; they are fighting to improve their shortage of goods, and fighting censorship and poverty.

          “…we have no liberty of expression; if we do not concur with the government’s ideas we are completely ignored.” (Scotsi)

          Across the Caribbean, in Cuba, a similar situation has been going on for decades and decades. While Venezuelans are fighting poverty, Cubans have been living on a few dollars worth of monthly wages for generations. Thus, when word got out of the Venezuelan protests and turmoil, Cubans quickly extended their sympathies and support to Venezuela.

          However, Venezuelan protestors are convinced that it is Fidel Castro, former dictator of Cuba, to blame for their current plight.  They believe that it was Castro’s influence on Hugo Chavez, former leader of Venezuela, that got the country into its current state. Though both leaders are now dead, their tyranny and oppression lives through their successors in the form of Raul Castro for Cuba, and Nicolas Maduro for Venezuela.

          Blaming “fidelismo” has led Venezuelan protestors to lash out against Cuba, and take to the streets burning Cuban flags.

          Before burning the flags, they write on them, “fuera los Castro” (“the Castros leave,” roughly), and then burn, tear, trample, and otherwise deface the Cuban banner. Cubans everywhere are in a state of outrage, and have since begun withdrawing their sympathies for Venezuela.

          The burning of the flag is so disrespectful because the flag isn’t just material — it is the patria Cubana, it is the Cuban people, culture, and spirit.

          Translation: “Now, burn all that you want, because Cuba isn’t the flag, WE are CUBA”; “What they could never 'burn' is that you are OURS.”

          Speaking as a Cuban immigrant, I was extremely offended and disheartened to discover what the protestors of Venezuela were doing to my flag. My flag, which stands for fraternity, peace, equality, and the freedom of the Cuban people, getting desecrated because of our own plight?

          Cubans have just as much disdain, though undoubtedly more, for Castro as Venezuelans have at this moment. Burn Castro, if you must, but do not burn my flag.

          Castro is not Cuba, just like Chavez and Maduro are not Venezuela. To burn the Cuban flag is to burn a Cuban, and this goes for any flag.

          Flag burning and desecration is the utmost form of disrespect. Nuestra estrella solitaria is so sacred to Cubans, just as Venezuela’s eight-starred banner is sacred to them.

          In this time of political turmoil, Cuba and Venezuela should be a united front, as Cubans everywhere can relate to the unrest, oppression, and tyranny felt by Venezuelans. This is not a time to be making enemies, to insult friends, or to disrespect flags.

          Conclusively, regardless of the country or its history, it is never okay to disrespect a flag. Flags unite people under one nationality, and that unity should never be disrespected or toiled with.