United States has shifted their policies our interactions with the Cuban government. These changes could be good or bad depending on who you ask – but the status quo hasn’t done much for the Cuban people in a very long time.

Today President Obama announced that diplomatic relationships would be opening up again with the Cuban government. This is a significant change in Cuban policy. Over 50 years ago, the United States severed all relationships with Cuba due to their socialist reforms and continued support of the Soviet Union. The history between the United States and Cuba has been a long and complicated one but one thing has remained: A constant deterioration in the quality of life for the Cuban people. They get told where they can go, what they can eat, what they can say, and have little to no availability to information of the outside world. Internet is deemed illegal and just about any attempt to infringe on these laws will put you in prison for years.

Some Cubans support the decision in hopes that it will bring economic growth to a destroyed country. However, there are also many Cubans who oppose the change in policy and believe it will only strengthen the communist government of Cuba and bring little change to the people.

Either way, the damage has already been done. The country can get no worse than it already is. The majority of my extended family has passed away and I barely got to know them. The residents of a once promised paradise now live in hopelessness with no sense of purpose. The only tidbit of salvation for my people is to muster the courage to attempt crossing 90 miles of open ocean using makeshift resources scraped together over months of hidden preparation and hope to make it to Florida. My mother cannot speak of her country, her family,  without shedding tears for the time and memories that were robbed from us.

This decision by the American President will bring a lot of debate between the Cuban people. The results of this event remain to be seen. These political issues however, feel irrelevant to me at this point. After so much suffering and hopelessness, all I pray for is for the chance to get to know what little family I have left on the island. I ask for the ability to visit the country of my parents, my heritage, without fear for my freedom or that of my loved ones.

Below is a picture of my cousin, my aunt and uncle as well as my grand parents. This smudged picture is over 15 years old and is all I remember of them since the last time I saw them. Both my grandparents and my uncle have passed, and I have another cousin that is 15 years old whom I’ve never met. Maybe one day…

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My Cuban family

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