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jeudi 30 avril 2015


On entering the Admirals Club at gate 30 at concourse D at Miami International airport, I was greeted by a smile, which I immediately knew to be Cuban! From San Antonio de los Banos, she said, when I asked her where she was from. I remembered a very special day in the past in that city which hosts an annual Comedy Festival. It is outside the city of Havana, she continued. But I am from the city, Vedado, to be precise, I surprised her. I don't believe you, she smiled. We quickly became friends; she was attending the passengers at the Lounge. She had left her hometown at the age of 18, before she could finish her studies, when her parents received the visa to come to the USA. She seemed disappointed that she has not been able to continue her studies, had she stayed in Cuba, she would have already graduated. But immigration is a personal choice and one must never judge people for their actions to leave Cuba. I told her to enter Miami Dade Community College and then Florida International University before pursuing her dream of becoming a veterinarian. She brought me a glass of sauvignon Blanc and it is customary to offer a tip. I looked at my wallet and to my surprise, I did not have a single American dollar, but had Cuban pesos of both kind 9 one chavito is worth a dollar, one peso cubano is worth five cents). I timidly offered the chavito, which she accepted, and I told her to check my blog to see some recent photos from la Habana. She left to attend to others.

In my brief one day stay in Miami, I had three younger Cubans and two older Cubans and they differed so dramatically in their views about Cuba. The younger ones reflected the Cuba as it is today having left in the last few years. The older ones, who had left half a century ago, carry their bags of venom in their breaths when they talk about Cuba.
(so close yet so divided, hopefully we will be united soon)
(time taken to fly from Havana to Miami from take off to touch down!)
At a store an older Cuban woman overheard me buying things to take back to Cuba. She remarked that she has not been back in 46 years and she blamed the recent American influx into Cuba as people gawking at misery! There is no freedom there, she talked as if she had discovered a truth, and became silent when I had to point out the lack of certain freedoms in Miami, such as the ability to walk when you want and where you want. People like here and other older people are going to suffer psychologically as the truth about Cuba brought back by neutral American visitors triumph over the work of half a century old anti Cuban propaganda machinery in Miami.
Another older Cuban man, running his own business, an electrician, said he will not invest in Cuba as long as the Castros are alive but he didn't mind Americans visiting there. He was also very negative about Cuban politics. I gently pointed out that the Cuban American politicians are some of the most reactionaries in the scene and that their uneducated ill pronouncements make any and every American cringe with fear and distrust.
I am afraid that these older Cuban Americans will suffer psychologically as days go by and Cuba and its people get better and fairer and truthful coverage in the press and TV, thus making their own lives as if they had lived a lie, concocted by the selfish Cuban American politicians and businessmen. (PS: Miami is considered to be the most fraudulent place to be a politician or a businessman in the USA)
But the younger Cubans who had come here for various reasons are very different. They do not have the venomous breath of the older ones and they are realistic about what they left behind and also wish to do something about improving the lives of the relatives left behind. One was an IT engineer who came six years ago; the other was a personal trainer who left 12 years ago. The latters wife left when she was 15 and very anxious to return to her native island as soon as it is feasible. When can see my country again, she had asked her husband.

My words to all of them were similar. Please think nice thoughts about our isla rica, our Cuba. The people of Cuba need your support now, moral and financial. This is not the time for discussions about political parties and dissidents. This is not the time for divisions or hatred. Help your family in the island in any way you can, best is to establish a little business they can carry on, however small, to show them the value of financial freedom and control. And I told them all about the lady from Ayesterran in Havana who with her ice cream machine was making a nice living, because of her good business plan and long ago paid back the investment her Miami relatives had made in her.
I felt good once again, being an unofficial ambassador for the people of Cuba and looked forward to my return to my beloved island. Cuba