SEABROOK SAYS: Claudio Fuente is a native of Cuba, but has lived in the USA for many years. He will share his thoughts about Cuba and the possible relationships with the US. Somehow, sometime, Gaston County may benefit from a relationship developed between Cuba and the US. NOW THAT YOU KNOW, WHAT WILL YOU DO?
On a recent trip to Little Havana in Miami, Florida I marveled at this vibrant community in action. Vendors and business owners graciously made everyone feel welcomed, despite language barriers and cultural differences. As an American citizen originally born in Havana, Cuba, this environment reminded me of the warmth and friendliness the Cuban people show to each other and to everyone they meet.
Significant events have once again thrust Cuba and America together and all for the better. Many people who came to this country from Cuba take the view that America should have nothing to do with the present Castro regime. I’m of the opinion trade is good — eliminate the embargo and flood Cuba with blue jeans and car parts!
Cuba has many issues, and so does America — both countries have political prisoners, a history of human rights violations, a significant gap between rich and poor. I’ve always had a dislike and distrust for the current Cuban government leadership. Because of the actions of previous administrations, the door was opened for the current leaders, leading to mass migrations from Cuba in the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s.
This year, my family and I will celebrate our 60th anniversary of arriving to America. For my sister and I, the move was like a camping trip. For our parents it was pure hell. They had to give up everything they owned in this world to be total strangers in a land that did not want them. They endured being made to feel they were unwanted, got used to being shown the exit rather than the entrance. They experienced discrimination because they were from another land and spoke another language. They survived and provided for their family by accepting any employment available, even jobs that were well beneath their skill levels. We knew many physicians, dentists and teachers from Cuba who came to America and found their degrees and experience meant nothing here, so they took any job they could, often working as housekeepers, shift workers in factories, or restaurant servers. My family and I saw and experienced these hardships and many more.
Our family made a vow not to allow the hatred to discourage us. Many people were kind to us and provided encouragement as we found our way in this new country. We pursued education and exhibited a strong work ethic, eventually meeting our goal of becoming American citizens. As citizens, we were excited to be granted the privilege to vote, looked forward to the honor of being called to serve on a jury pool, and felt secure knowing know that no one could take these and other rights away from us.
As someone who came to this country as a legal immigrant, I am concerned by the harsh language I hear from others about people who were not born in America. Please, never fear someone whose language you don’t recognize or speak — embrace them. Show compassion — many of these families suffered greatly to leave faraway places that don’t enjoy the freedoms that many of us take for granted. They want to be free to work hard, get an education, raise their families, and make a positive contribution to America.
Retired Graphic Design Manager