By Victor Manuel
HAVANA TIMES — After so much waiting, I listened closely to President Donald Trump’s announcement in Miami on TV, with respect to the new US policy towards Cuba. Going back in history and back on the rapprochement process between both countries which former US president Barack Obama initiated.
Daniel Hernandez, a young Medicine student at the Serafin Ruiz Medical Sciences University in Santa Clara and the son of emigres who are in exile in the US who he hasn’t seen in 9 years, shares some of his views to Havana Times on the subject of this new stage in US-Cuba relations.
HT: How has your adolescence been given the fact you haven’t seen your parents in 9 years?
DH: It’s been tough, they left Cuba when I was 9 years old and now I’m 18. I have grown up with my grandmother in Sancti Spiritus. I miss them greatly and I would like to be able to see them one day. I have only been able to speak to them on the Internet. I think that’s why I’m studying medicine, so that I can get a [government] mission when I graduate and then abandon it so I can be with them again.
HT: Were you expecting President Trump’s announcement? Were you able to see the speech? What was your reaction?
DH: I’d been following the news a few days beforehand and was waiting for this day to come around, in fact I had a class and I skipped it, I sat right in front of the TV and waited for his speech. I could watch it on TeleSur, I saw all of it. I didn’t understand a lot of what Trump said, but even so I agreed with several things but not all.
HT: What did you expect President Trump’s new policy would be towards Cuba? What announcements or regressions can you see on the thawing process established by Barack Obama?
DH: I think that Trump should break relations with Cuba because the truth is there have been a lot of talks, but people continue living in the same misery and without some freedoms. Plus, the Cuban government makes many demands but it doesn’t want to yield anything.
Obama’s administration tried to restore relations, but the reality is that nothing got fixed, it was just the embassy that opened and that hasn’t done anything but continue to follow the same policy as 50 years ago; US-Cuba relations are at such a point that they were established in 2015 and they still aren’t talking about emigres or former political prisoners visiting this country.
It’s been 9 years since I’ve seen my parents, I grew up without them, and maybe that’s why I see and think about things differently, but it’s this (the Cuban) government’s fault that many families are still separated today. How can it not pain them because at the end of the day we are all Cubans, separated, divided and marginalized a lot of the time?
It isn’t fair that many people are coming from other countries to take advantage of us because of our economic situation, that’s where jineterismo (a form of prostitution) comes from, you can’t deny the fact that our people are among the most beautiful and attractive in the world.
I believe that the Cuban authorities will say the same thing they always do and under the same pretexts.
HT: What do you expect for the future of Cubans now that the US has announced this new policy towards Cuba?
DH: I wouldn’t like there to be a war, because at the end of the day, the emigres in Miami and us are all Cubans, and we shouldn’t pay for anybody’s poor management and wrong decisions. That doesn’t mean that capitalism is the better system because it isn’t, people who have money are the ones in a good situation, but it’s an out-of-date system; Communism is worse because it’s something which is forcefully imposed doesn’t work here nor in the Conchinchina (a popular term meaning any place). If only Cuba were free one day and we were the owners of our own fate. ¡Cuba should live with liberty!
HT: Have you had contact with your parents after finding out about Trump’s announcement? Do you hope to see them again one day?
DH: Yes, in fact I’ve just spoken to my mother and she says that there is a huge party in Miami, that the majority of people are celebrating. Let me tell you that according to what people say there, trips (to Cuba) were suspended and Trump is going to put forward a bill to Congress to apply further sanctions on Cuba while this government remains in power. And something the press here hasn’t covered is that they have revoked visas for all of the relatives of emigres of those who deserted after Proclamation 3447 in 1962. I want to cry so much… If only there were an illegal way out or something… this situation is unbearable!