Cuban students should remember and fight for a free Cuba

Ossman Darwiche/ Assistant Opinion Director

I would like to take the initiative to unite Cuban students at FIU, at least those of us who care enough about the island in order to promote real, and lasting democratic change in Havana.

I am only half Cuban, but I am Cuban. I feel Cuba running through my veins every day, although I have never set foot on her soil myself.

You see I was raised in a Cuban family, amidst the vibrant exiled community of sunny South Florida. 

All my life I considered myself more American with a strong connection to my Jewish and Middle Eastern roots, and yet it is my Cuban heritage which moves me to tears whenever I hear old family tunes by Benny More, Celia Cruz, Gloria Estefan and Willy Chirino, or especially my beloved grandfather’s legendary “punto guajiro.”

You see, whether I like it or not, according to my mother’s side of the family, I am Cuban till the day I die. 

So to witness everything that my family and indeed my Cuban people have gone through in the last half century, the experience of the struggle of a people cast out of their long-lost paradise, while ever hoping, ever dreaming of their eventual return to a free Cuba. 

I remember my grandmother fighting back tears as she recounted her memories to me, the memories of a life once lived in her beloved homeland. 

My grandfather had his own café in Havana, but when Fidel Castro took over in 1959, a group of soldiers barged into his business and informed him that his establishment had been commandeered by “the revolution.” 

My uncle’s farm was also taken; he and his wife were kicked out and Castro himself turned that very farm into his personal hunting grounds.

And just like that, everything that my family struggled and worked by the sweat of their brow to build their entire lives was taken away in the span of a single day. 

As the years went by, generations died, our grandmothers and grandfathers, uncles and aunts passed on, leaving us a heritage of dreams once shattered, yet ever the more vibrant, on a mission to keep that fire going in the fight for a free and independent Cuba.

I will not be visiting Cuba personally for now, so long as the Communist regime continues its oppressive grip over its own people, not because of fear, but because I honor my family’s legacy when they swore not to return until Cuba will be free once more. 

Neither will I ever invest my hard-earned dollars into a country where the money hardly ever ends up in the hands of the people, but only continues to feed and empower the same dictatorship responsible for my family’s suffering. 

Instead, I will do everything within my power to undermine the long-standing Castro regime from right here in South Florida, and yes, the Castro family still dominates Cuba despite the current political charade. 

My grandmother, uncles and aunts died here while still in their exile of 60 long years. They lived their lives, they married and raised their children, but they never saw their cherished Cuba ever again. 

It is in their honor and their memory that I fight with my fiery words, until the great day my eyes behold my family’s dreams come true. 

When that day comes, and I know it is soon, I will gladly pay good money to visit Cuba personally and become more immersed in the culture than ever before.

Personally, my story and my journey lead me elsewhere, but before then I would like to visit Cuba and buy a small plot of land.

There I will plant a garden, each tree bearing a memorial plaque with a name of a fallen loved one, names of those whose stories once began on this island, who left fathers and mothers, sisters and brothers behind to start a new life in America, and never had the chance to see Cuba again.

Until then I will write, and write my heart out for my Cuban people, calling out Cuban tyranny in all its lies and hypocrisies, calling for the fall of Communism and the rise of Democracy, calling for freedom for my brothers and sisters living on the island.

Until then I say from the uttermost depths of my heart, Down with tyranny! Que viva Cuba libre! Long live a free Cuba!


The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of PantherNOW Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.

Photo by Epicurrence on Unsplash


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