Cuban refugees share opinions

Family are the people who love and care for you through every obstacle endured. They’re the first ones you want to see after a long, hard day at work. They can make you laugh and cry at the same time.

“(My aunt) didn’t recognize her own father since he had been gone for a year,” part Cuban Annie Aguiar said.

Living in Cuba is not like living in the U.S. There are young boys sent to wait in breadlines, in hopes that they’ll receive some food for the day. Work camps are set up for adults to work in before they gain their freedom. There is a communist dictator ruling over every aspect of citizens’ lives.

“Communism is one of those things that looks good on paper, but never works out in practice and all it does is cause people to suffer,” Aguiar said.

Current dictator, Raul Castro, is disliked by most Cubans.  Some have said that they “hate him,” others say that he’s a “sack of shit,” and that he has also isolated Cuba into an “entirely separate world.”

“When I left Cuba, the Cuban government would not let us leave with any possessions,” Cuban Jorge Cinca said. “My father wrapped money inside of my belt and wrapped it around my waist to hide it from the police.”

Many residents spent hours coming up with escape plans in order to get out of the country. Most were happy to leave and start a new life somewhere else. The Freedom Flights were a very popular method of transportation.

“These flights were the single largest airborne refugee operations in American history,” Aguiar said.

“We had to jump a six-foot fence to get into the U.S. Embassy and then run half a mile in order to get there fast enough before the police caught us,” former Cuban resident, Yolanda Cinca said.

Moving to an unknown territory is scary for refugees. You don’t know what the place is like that you’re going to, how the people act, and even what you’re about to encounter.

“I was very scared and it was very risky. I was afraid I was going to get caught and not make it there (U.S.),” Jorge said.

Some escapees fled to Jamaica, Miami and New Jersey. This is where their new life began.

“I was sent to Jamaica with only enough money to survive for one week because my family’s there but we could not find each other for over a week,” Jorge said.

For the first time since 1961, President Obama lifted the embargo connected with Cuban relations in 2015. Tourists, former residents, the president and many more have gone to see this interesting place in recent years. Some like that this embargo has been lifted, while others hate it.

“My dad’s not a fan. He will be happy when Cuba becomes a state. My aunt and grandfather are all for it,” Aguiar said. “I don’t want to go to Cuba as long as it’s benefitting a government that forced my family to escape.”

Being a part of a family with parents from two completely different heritages can become complicated. For Aguiar, her father is Cuban and Hispanic, while her mother is from the Bronx. It’s like trying to “connect with a culture that’s not entirely yours.”

The idea of them having a life that you never even knew about is bizarre, but the stories and information you can learn is interesting.

“My dad’s stories were the foundation of my childhood,” Aguiar said.

Taking a risk is not always easy.  Ranging from embargoes being lifted to the difference in cultures, former Cuban citizens are mentally tired. Their escape is never over.