I feel it’s important that I take a minute away from sharing about all the fun stuff in the keys to say something about my motherland- Cuba. A friend of mine made the graphic I used as my featured photo for this post (Le Petit Papier) and when she posted it she said she couldn’t find the words yet but was able to create this graphic. I had a hard time finding the words as well but I decided to just write….. so here it goes…
This has been going on for over 60 years but now with the internet and social media it’s time to make some noise and let the world know what goes on in the island.
For those who don’t know, I am first generation Cuban-American. I am very blessed to have been born in this country and very proud to be an American but my roots are on the island 90 miles away. My mom came when she was 6 years old. She doesn’t remember much about her childhood in Cuba. Both my grandparents were successful professionals and they had built a nice life in Cuba. My grandfather was an accountant and my grandmother was a pharmacist. In 1960 they decided they needed to leave. They left behind family, their home, their dog and life as they knew it. My mom doesn’t remember much but remembers her jewelry she had on at the airport being taken away, my grandmother hiding her wedding ring (something you can’t put a price on) under my uncle who was an infant at the time so the government wouldn’t take it, and my grandfather being taken into a room at the airport to be searched before they were able to escape. They came to this country with nothing and their first home was a house full of rats. My grandfather went from being a professional in his country to needing to walk to his job as a factory worker and staying up half the night with my grandmother making bows to sell so they could make ends meet. My mom tells stories about how hard it was to come to a country where you didn’t know the language and you have absolutely nothing. At the time, my mom and her family experienced racism. She remembers being called a SPIC at school. It was hard and what they accomplished despite all of it is amazing. Even with that start my mom is not only a college graduate but she’s a CPA and worked many years at one of the BEST accounting firms in the world PriceWaterhouseCoopers. I honestly don’t know anyone that’s worked harder than my mom. Today she has a very successful accounting firm Estefan CPA and it puts food on the table for a chunk of our family as well as our employees.
I find that most first generation Cuban-Americans around my age have parents with a similar story. My dad’s story is actually a little different. He didn’t leave the island until 1980. He was 35 years old. I still haven’t reached my 35th birthday, so at my age he was still there. Fourteen years earlier, my grandparents and uncle were fortunately able to leave. My dad had to push my grandmother onto the plane because she didn’t want to leave him there. The government wouldn’t let him leave because he was of military age. I have a half brother and half sister who were born in Cuba and their mother passed away when they were children. As a mom, I don’t know how single parents do it. A single parent stuck in a communist country? I don’t know how he survived. His stories are about how they didn’t have food sometimes or how he risked his life sometimes just for criticizing the government. Can you imagine needing to be scared because you gave your opinion about something?
Like their stories there are so many! People risk their lives jumping on rafts they’ve made from anything they can find, in hopes that they can make it 90 miles north and touch American soil. Have you ever been out in the ocean in the middle of the night? If you ever go on a cruise, just look out to the ocean at night for a second and think about the desperation it would take. Do you realize how bad your life has to be to jump on a raft made out of trash with your children in hopes that you can make it 90 miles north? Let that sink in for a minute.
I’ve realized there is so much misinformation out there about Cuba and I feel like many who aren’t Cuban are making comments and making statements where you can clearly tell they have no idea what they are talking about and didn’t take a minute to get informed before publicly saying what they are saying- Black Lives Matter I’m looking at you… to name one. The US Embargo is not the problem. COVID is not the problem. This has been going on for 60 years and we’re just making more noise and trying to bring awareness to it with social media and the internet now.
People on the island are hungry, they don’t have food. They do not have access to medical attention. Their hospitals are dirty. Doctors are trained and sent to other countries against their own will, rather than kept in the country to help their own people. They need US dollars to be able to buy a decent amount of food. If they do not have family that can send US dollars they starve. You see these beautiful resorts in Cuba that all these celebrities love to visit but the Cuban people cannot go. It is only for tourists. Police brutality is a norm. They’ll beat women and children. They don’t care. Their people are unarmed so they cannot fight back. The first thing a communist government does is take away your right to bear arms so you cannot fight back. The US Embargo is not to blame for all of this! In fact, the US Embargo has NOTHING to do with it! How can you blame another country for Cuba’s leaders taking everything away from it’s own people? I really encourage anyone who thinks the US Embargo is the blame for Cuba’s problems to inform themselves on what is actually happening and to actually listen to the Cuban people.
We need to let the world know what is going on and that is why I am taking a moment to write about it. I pray and hope that the Cuban people can soon see the change necessary and finally have freedom. Let’s make some noise!
I know the United States isn’t perfect but I am so thankful and feel so blessed to live in this country. We need to stop taking our freedoms for granted. We have the right to protest, the right to worship, the right to speak our minds and the right to bear arms. We can work hard and achieve the American dream, and if you need proof of this just look to all the Cuban people who left their country with nothing and have built amazing lives in this country!
Thanks for visiting.