Family Reunions Build Bridges to Cuba

If there’s one thing Cubans in Miami share with compatriots in Cuba, it’s a desire to travel freely—especially to visit family. Lifting the U.S. travel ban could open all kinds of doors.

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Market in La Havanna. Photo by Sarah van Gelder
Sarah van Gelder

Since Fidel Castro stepped down earlier this year, both the exile community in Miami and the Bush administration have repeatedly used phrases like “transition toward democracy” when discussing the future of Cuba. In my opinion, these references are vacuous.

How can we speak about a future relationship with Cuba when we haven’t prepared the way for that transition to take place? Before transition, there must be reconciliation. How else can we begin to imagine a future Cuba that incorporates both los de aquí y los de allá (those living here and those living there)? How else will each side gain enough understanding of the other to transcend the stereotypes promoted by the Cuban and American governments and the media?

I belong to a second-generation of Cuban-Americans whose lives have been shaped by the politics of intolerance that have long defined the relationship between two opposing realities. We have been robbed of the opportunity to be part of the process that shapes the US-Cuba political discourse.

The United States should lift the embargo on travel to and trade with Cuba, and abandon attempts at isolation. Instead, the United States should adopt a policy of engagement.

Creating opportunities for meaningful exchanges among generations of Cuban Americans and their Cuban counterparts will prove an effective and powerful engine for change. I have experienced time and time again the profoundly positive effects of this exchangeduring my travels to Cuba since 2002.

Elizabeth Cerejido wrote this article as part of A Just Foreign Policy, the Summer 2008 issue of YES! Magazine. Elizabeth Cerejido was born in Havana, Cuba in 1969 and raised in Miami. She is an artist and art historian, who specializes in contemporary Latin American art and photography, with a special focus in Cuban art.

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