Cuba: La Salida (Cuba: It Was Time To Leave)

“Nada más que he extrañado siempre a la familia.” | “The only thing is, I have always missed my family.”

Mirtha Cuza | interviewed and produced by Melissa Avila

Transcript for Cuba: La Salida | Cuba: It Was Time To Leave

I was born in Matanzas [Cuba]. I think it was a pretty place. From the time I was very young, I liked it. I got used to being around many people. When I was older, I was around even more people because of working in my father’s shoe shop. My father later opened another business so that I could run it because I used to tell him that everyone liked me and thought I was charming.

I had, let’s see, three brothers and four sisters. We were a big family. I think I lived well and I was able to do everything I liked because [my parents] let me. And then, let’s see… I continued to help my father with his business. Then I found my husband and we got married.

After four or five years of being married, since we did not like the government, we wanted to come [to the United States]. I had to work in the fields [in Cuba] where they harvested pineapples, and I would come home with cuts all over because the pineapple bushes scratched me. And that’s how life was until it was time to leave for [the United States] in the year 1970.

I like it here, and I’ve stayed here ever since. I think we have lived well for the many years that we have been here. First, I worked in a school cafeteria for many years. Then I worked in a furniture factory. I was the one who cut and sewed for many years. Later, I worked at another furniture factory to do the same kind of tasks like cutting, sewing, and preparing the furniture. I did this for various years until I retired. So, I no longer work. Now I only do chores around the house. That is the kind of life I live now. I like to go to the casino… [laughs], but you can’t go every day because then, you know…

Well, in Cuba, since we did not like the [governmental] system, I feel bad for my family there since I left them, but I will never go back to Cuba and that’s just it. I have gone to visit two to three times only, but I have not tried to go back. This is because the last time I went, I went with my son and daughter. When we were there, it was not an airport, but it was the place where you fill out your papers [for Customs] to enter [Cuba], they called me up and a man said, “Be very careful on your way back [to the U.S.] because they will not let you go back with your son.” So, I think that I will not go back [to Cuba]. And I feel good here. I have liked living here.

The only thing is, I have always missed my family. At the same time, I came here so that my children can have a better future, that’s why. This makes you think about many things that hurt you. You think a lot about your mother, your father, your siblings, and everything else, because I did not get to see them before they passed away, but I continue to move forward until God wishes.

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