My Visit to the USA: The Things I Would Rather Write About

Dariela Aquique

ASCEHAVANA TIMES — Many have asked me why I haven’t commented on the congress of the Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy (ASCE) I was invited to attend in August in the city of Miami.

The answer is that my colleague Vicente Morin got ahead of me, writing daily reports on what took place there from his hotel room.
That said, I want to add that meeting the fraternal Ted Henken, exchanging ideas with the intelligent Maria Werlau, getting to know the sensible and charming Arturo Lopez Levi, sharing a panel with Eliecer Avila and enjoying a pleasant conversation with and the company of Dimas Castellanos, among many other things, was a very positive experience for me.

I was pleased by the plurality achieved by the gathering, and by the fact that, despite people’s differences of opinion, we are seeing the will (expressed in different ways) to establish, once and for all, exchanges that call for the unification of those two Cubas, the island and the émigré community.

Vicente also devoted more than one post to sharing his impressions of the city. I, in contrast to my colleague, paid more attention to the people than this First World city (which does not mean, of course, that I wasn’t impressed by the beauty of the downtown area, the cosmopolitanism of Miami Beach, the glamorous touch of Coral Gable’s architecture, the delicious meat pie served at Versalles, on the city’s renowned 8th Street, or the patent differences that exist between the Express Way and the central and national highways).

I paid particularly close attention to how certain Cuban émigrés behave. Some have been living there for over two decades and have become US citizens, some have been there less time but have the Green Card that affords them permanent residency.
I came across people with different points of view.

The first group approached me and asked me whether I was planning on staying in the United States, in the form of a rhetorical question. The second tried to convince me of the benefits the country offered and (something that struck me as absurd) to compare the world’s most powerful economy with that of the island.

The third group said what a shame my visa, which entitles me to travel to and from the United States for five years, when there are people who would risk their lives to be able to live over there.

The fourth labeled me a concealed communist and possibly a Cuban government agent.

All of this was accompanied by invitations to visit shopping malls, Walmarts and eat beef, garbanzo beans and apples, as though I looked a bit undernourished to them.

I came upon people who are so recalcitrant, resentful and bitter, that they wouldn’t have anyone say that some things have gradually changed in Cuba. These are people who live in the past, complaining about the properties that were taken away from them, enumerating the people killed at La Cabaña fortress following the revolution and looking at Cuba as though the island became transfigured into the voice and face of the Castros in their memories.

I also met those who are willing to clean people’s homes, even those more austere than their own, in order to maintain their status as “successful people,” those who barely get any rest and take two jobs to pay their mortgages, their cars, their insurances, their taxes, the bills, their health insurance, their joy, their hope – in short, the price they have to pay to be there.”

I met with friends who are talented doctors and are working as waiters at restaurants, engineers working at gas stations, people who refuse to return to Cuba out of pride or shame. I also met people who only dream of taking their oath before the Star Spangled Banner and being named US citizens.

I met people who constantly prowl Internet sites about Cuba to vent their frustration over being little fish in a big pond rather than big fish in a small pond, to attack my comments with cruelty and disrespect, people who are always doing sums, whose wallets are stuffed with credit cards, who have to repeat “I am happy, god bless the United States of America” over and over again to truly believe it.

I apologize to Vicente, but these are the kinds of things I would rather write about.


Dariela Aquique

Dariela Aquique: I remember my years as a high school student, especially that teacher who would interrupt the reading of works and who with surprising histrionics spoke of the real possibilities of knowing more about the truth of a country through its writers than through historical chronicles. From there came my passion for writing and literature. I had excellent teachers (sure, those were not the days of the Fast-track Teachers) and extemporization and the non-mastery of subjects was not tolerated. With humble pretenses, I want to contribute to revealing the truth about my country, where reality always overcomes fiction, but where a novel style shrouds its existence.

3 thoughts on “My Visit to the USA: The Things I Would Rather Write About

  • Dariela is complaining about speech freedom!!!!!!…… it is not rare….. she has spent too much time in castro regime darkness ….. Dariela…… when visiting the US you should spend more time in the company of Ted and Warlau but not too much in the company of Lopez Levy (before Lopez Calleja, a member of castro elite)…… the good company maybe makes to learn be criticized and take it easy in the same easy form you make critics.

  • I have met a handful of Cubans who, out of national pride, refuse to acknowledge how ‘frickin depressing their lives are in Cuba once they have tasted the fruit of real freedom in the US or just about anywhere else outside of Cuba. I admit, the hustle and bustle of the US is an acquired taste, especially after growing up spoon-fed by the Castro regime with where to live, what to eat, what to wear, and even what to think. These Cubans, and Dariela appears to be one of them, will gobble down that delicious meat pie served at Versalles and then sneer at the waiter who served them just because they are working two jobs to support a lifestyle just beyond their means. Dariela had no problem accepting gifts from Cubans who are chasing the American Dream and still has the gumption to criticize them. How many blackouts did she endure while in Miami? If she went down to the lobby of the genuinely 4 or 5-star hotel she slept in (unlike what passes for 4-stars in Cuba) and cursed Obama out at the top of her lungs for his position on the embargo, she might have been arrested for being nuts but no one would have thought to charge her with “PRE-criminal behavior” and thrown her in a gulag for years without charges or a trial. Nowhere in the US tour guide does it say we are a perfect country. Far from it and if you don’t believe it just read our independent press. But one thing is for sure, no one is subjecting themselves to being shark bait trying to leave the US in an innertube to get to Cuba.

  • Who are you kidding. Please

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