The camera panned away from a garbage fire in the middle of the street and followed the young men who had set it. The men were calling to a nearby band of demonstrators. “The people are afraid they might be provocateurs, under orders from Castro,” said the television announcer. “This is rowdier than most Miami traffic jams, but it isn’t a riot; it’s the beginning of a catharsis.”
The disturbances that followed the removal of Elián González from his Miami relatives’ home by armed federal agents were indeed part of a catharsis, though not its beginning. The outpouring of emotion started months earlier, not on the streets but in homes and churches, away from the television cameras. Some people say they are angrier than they’ve been in years, but they are also talking and listening to each other more. If that continues, there is hope for dialogue within the Cuban exile community—which is probably prerequisite for dialogue with the rest of the city.