Manuel Gonzalez offers Cuban-American perspective to normalized relations
Editor’s Note: Manuel Gonzalez was born in Cuba and came to the United States in 1997 via a visa lottery. He now works as a Spanish teacher at St. Mary School and still has family in Cuba.
What were your impressions of the Castro regime?
When I lived there, I had no idea. For me it was the only thing I knew, so I couldn’t compare. Once I left the island, then I realized how bad it was when I compared the United States to Cuba. And everything I knew for 15 years was not true. So everything is– you have to do whatever they tell you. You have to go to the doctor when they tell you, you go to the bathroom when they tell you. He tells you what to eat, what to study, what to do, everyday.
How do you think you would have felt if you were still living there, before you came to the United States, regarding the normalization of relations with Cuba?
If I lived in Cuba, I’d probably feel good about it, because I have family here [U.S.], so I knew I was going to be able to come in and out. Also, it’s something new. In reality, when I talked to my family, they have no idea that that happened. My family in Cuba have no idea that this trade or these changes are happening. So it’s a different level. People in that country don’t know.
What is your opinion about normalizing relations, and would you say that it is common among most Cuban-Americans?
I have mixed feelings… because I think the Cuban government is showing a fake face… The other part, that I think is good, is that they had something for over 50 years that doesn’t work, so maybe this will work… I think the new Cubans, the younger generation, yes, probably yes. But the older generation that came in the 60s, 70s, 80s, no, because when they left Cuba, Castro took stuff from them. Broke their family. Killed their family. So they don’t want to see Cuba with Castro. For me, if the people over there are okay, in Cuba, if it seems the people are better, then it’s fine. Maybe Castro has decided it’s time for a change, and I’m okay with that.