I’m Cuban-American. Here Are My Thoughts On The Current Crisis

Like many other residents of Miami, Fl, I am Cuban-American. My grandparents, both maternal and paternal, were born in Cuba and were forced to exile their beloved, beautiful country due to a communist regime take over. My grandmother and her parents fled the country in 1961, in hopes for a better life in the United States. My great-grandfather was a dentist in Cuba. When he came to the U.S. with literally just the clothes on his back, he had to work as a delivery man to be able to support his family to the best of his ability until he was able to become a dentist in Miami. My step dad was born in Cuba and fled with his mother when he was only five years old. Unfortunately, his father stayed behind as a political prisoner until years later. His uncle, Jorge Mas Canosa, was a lobbyist on Cuban and anti-Castro political views in Cuba and here in the U.S. until he passed away. I’m sure many of your families have similar stories, which is why what’s currently going on in Cuba is so heartbreaking for all of us with Cuban heritage.

In Case You Missed It, Here’s What’s Going On In Cuba:

  • Pro-democracy protests have broken out throughout the streets of Cuba
  • Not only are they protesting a lack of medical necessities amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, but also their general inhumane living conditions.
  • Cuba has been under a communist regime for over 62 years, and Cubans are calling to end it
  • Cuban President (dictator) Miguel Diaz-Canel deployed the Cuban army to take to the streets and arrest any and all protesters. The army is armed with assault riffles, among other weapons, while the Cuban protesters are completely unarmed (not by choice- firearms are one of the many things they don’t have access to).

Why now? It’s simple. These protests aren’t simply because of the pandemic. Covid-19 and the stress and economic hardship it put on the country was merely a trigger. After decades of poverty, limited (to no) access to basic goods, and minimal healthcare, the Cuban people are done and decided it’s time to revolt and call for change. The regime cut off Cuba’s communication with the outside world earlier this week, so the only way for anyone to know what is going on or to speak with family members on the island is if the people in Cuba have a virtual private network (VPN) in their homes. Even then, communication with the U.S. is difficult and limited. The regime-supporters and military are arresting and attacking protesters that are risking their lives to fight for freedom, something they have so desperately needed for decades.

On another note, this brings me to my point as to why I would never visit Cuba while it’s under this regime/dictatorship. I am actually appalled every time someone asks me, whether it’s someone from out of town, an Uber driver, or a friend, if I have ever visited Cuba or if I plan to. Why would I travel to a country my family and the families of so many of my loved ones fled because all of their basic human rights were being taken from them? Why would I pay hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars to a five-star resort, when the Cuban people don’t even have proper infrastructure in their homes and hospitals? Cubans wait in lines for hours to get basic goods like chicken and rice, there are constant power outages in the cities, and in the case that you need to be hospitalized, you need to take your own linens, gowns, and supplies- God-willing you have them. How could any Cuban-American go visit a country as a tourist and support that? It’s really beyond me. It’s not cute to take pictures with the old buildings and cars in Cuba. The country is virtually stuck in the 1960’s, and not allowed to progress.

Cuba in 1959, courtesy of Twitter
Cuba in 2021, courtesy of Twitter

I am not a political or economic expert by any means… nothing close to it, actually. I may also be “less” Cuban than many others living here in Miami based on some people’s standards- whatever that means. Something I am, though, is a second generation Cuban-American whose family, including my mom, dad, step parents, and grandparents, all descended from Cubans, whether they lived there themselves or not. What’s going on in my family’s motherland is heartbreaking, scary, and downright inhumane. Cuba deserves the right to peacefully protest, the right to basic goods and shelter, the right to freedom of speech, the right to basic healthcare, and the right to have access to the internet. The communist regime has tried blaming the U.S. for instigating the uprising and protests, which isn’t surprising. U.S. legislators and political leaders need to voice their support for the Cuban protesters and do everything in their power to help the Cuban people.

I don’t know what else to say other than how heartbreaking it is to see my family’s country going through something like this. There are a ton of online resources that you can check out that will better explain what’s going on, and they definitely go into more detail than I can. I’ll link some of the articles I found helpful below. It’s about time that the people fight back, but I really hope that some change and good comes from it, and that this can be the start of something new for Cuba. Cuba libre.

Abrazos y besos, y mi apoyo a la gente de Cuba, de donde provienen mis raíces,

Nicki G.

P.S. Blocking the Palmetto expressway does absolutely nothing to help the Cuban people, and it’s illegal. Use that energy to protest and show your support elsewhere, not to cause massive traffic in a city that already has endless traffic.

P.S.S. Don’t take your boats on a long ass drive to Cuba when there are extreme storms right now. What are you going to do when you show up there? Get shot and/or detained by the Cuban armed guards? I see the effort and passion and I respect it, but keep yourself safe so you’re available (and alive) to help when needed. Just my two cents, but what do I know.

Links to learn more:

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