Op-Ed

Time to accept change in relations

TNS

Cuban Americans everywhere, but especially the diaspora in South Florida, have been awakening to the reality that Cuba's isolation was and is not a sustainable strategy.

The case has been made for decades that Cuba’s failure is a self-inflicted wound by its dictatorial leadership.

Unfortunately, those of us born on the island — and in partnership with U.S. policies — provided the strategic scapegoat that perpetuated the cover that allowed the Cuban government to blame the embargo and Washington for all its failures.

As I look at my five children and my parents in their 80s, years have passed that seemed like minutes. Where has all the time gone?

I cannot forget, nor should any Cuban American (or anyone who has suffered alongside us) forget, the brutality of the regime.

When I was only 9 years old, I saw a man killed by a firing squad. I can never forget that awful moment. Another family member returned home one day to find his father hanging in his apartment with a handmade paper sign tagged to his chest with a single word, “Gusano” (”worm”).

REGIME BARBARISM

We will never, ever forget such barbarism, but we also should not remain hostages to such evil. We need to free ourselves from the nightmares, the anger, the “We will get even” attitude. We need to redirect our energies and emotions toward making sure that we do not react to the Cuban government's efforts (which will come) to shut the door on this new era.

The regime will do whatever it takes to make us react. In order to roll back the clock, they have shrewdly, cleverly manipulated all of us by making us react to their actions.

The opening of the door scares that regime, and that should not surprise us.

Rationality compels us to say what we are almost embarrassed to say — Cuban Americans living outside the island have succeeded in living a life denied to those who are imprisoned by the blue Caribbean waters that surround our birthplace.

Our minds are not trapped by a system that punishes choice. Our bodies have seen places and things that the Cuban people have not even seen for almost 60 years.

better off

Our children have been educated in a system of our choice and not under monolithic Castroism. We enjoy the democratic right to speak our mind and vote our convictions. Lastly, we are financially better off with freedom as to where we live, pray and work.

Most all of us are financially better off than where we would have been had we stayed on the island. We found a land, a country that opened its doors, guaranteeing us the right to follow our dreams, but not the guarantee to succeed. That was our choice.

We were adopted by this great land, earning us the right to be its legal citizens. The United States of America gave us our home and opportunities, and it is time for us to be part of the changing landscape as our old home and our new homeland move forward.

Let’s not forget that as Americans we lost 58,000 American children in the jungles and swamps and highlands of Vietnam. Some of these were Cuban-American children. Tens of thousands of other Americans served with distinction.

Even after all those dead, the American people ultimately chose to open an embassy in Vietnam.

It's time to accept change. Let us not heed those relatively few voices who would go on continuing to trap our minds in hatred. Let's not allow our minds to imprison ourselves. Let us move forward.

Biology will take care of those who enslaved our families. Let us focus on helping the Cuban people.

Let the embassies open. Let Google and Yahoo, the press and Yoani, and the memory of Paya and many others be the order of the day.

Let’s support the Cuban people’s hunger for a future, a future that has been denied to them for decades now. Let's us be a force of change, not a people of unremitting anger.

My friends, my family, my fellow Cuban Americans, let’s set our people free.

Let us free our minds of hate and memories and thoughts or revenge.

Michael “Mike” B. Fernandez is chairman of MBF Healthcare Partners.

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