My swim from Cuba come Florida, aside from the personal difficulty to do endurance background across a wild, epos ocean, was constantly meant to additionally make a declare of optimistic reconnection between our 2 beautiful nations.

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The Cuban transformation happened when I was a nine-year-old life in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Precise overnight, thousands of exiles flooded into my town. Us were unexpectedly eating Cuban food, dance salsa in my new friends" living rooms. The mysticism ran deep. Already a tiny swimmer, ns was stand on the beach at the time and also I asked my mother, who had danced salsa numerous times with my dad at the fabled Hotel Nacional in Havana:

The story I an initial knew of Cuba was from the exile side. An excellent people compelled out of your homes, given 24 hrs to gather of few possessions and also cash the end at the bank. Your houses, their clothing, their cars, your boats, numerous of your friends and family never to be checked out again.


Then there was the Fidel side. The reads a noble story. Fidel and his comrades in justice Che and Camilo, journey stealth one night ~ above horseback from the mountains right into Havana, to save the people from the dictator regime of Batista, where the affluent were vastly rich and the bad were desperately poor, v no middle ground. The famous, defiant face of Che has been plastered to countless young persons" bedroom walls v the years. Che Guevara, Fidel Castro, Camilo Cienfuegos -- soldiers of and for the people.

I have actually learned the hard method not to take it either side, no to speak that the politics of Cuba. Socialism, in its bare bones definition, every individual licensed has been granted to the same material necessities, deserve to be taken as a just method to regulate a nation. On one anecdotal level, I deserve to say that in the dozens of times I have visited Cuba, because my very first try come swim from nation to country back in 1978, I have never when seen a homeless person. Ns have discovered a populace of educated, polite, intelligent, fit, musical, athletic, compassionate, philosophical, look at happy people. So there to be a time the I safeguarded Fidel"s initial vision, that ns joined countless who touted his success in taking the majority from 3rd world to second world.

The one point I could never explain, understand, or defend about the Fidel program was that Cubans weren"t allowed to leaving the island. If you love her country, love the life you live there, why is over there such fear that a trip everywhere abroad would certainly convince you never to return home?

Clearly, in current years ~ the Soviet Union"s collapse and also withdrawal, Cuba has devolved toward a depth and virtually tragic state of poverty. Products have always been difficult to come by, yet it"s to be a lengthy time because asthma medicine, cooking oil, and a decent loaf of bread have been on the market shelves. A couple I have actually stayed through in Old Havana, both highly educated, through a daughter who has actually asthma, stand outside the hospital ER in the middle of the night, begging any type of worker leaving come go back inside and find castle an inhaler. Every 2 weeks they was standing in a line to receive one chicken, six eggs, and also a few staples. Lock invite visitors to their "Casa Privada" because that dinner, stretching those staples into an innovative meals so the travelers can tell the story of eating in a private home, and then castle pare earlier their own household meals come the ceiling minimum. Again, just a layman"s anecdotal evidence, yet it provided to be the to discuss a rapprochement v an typical Cuban citizen was to conference tears was standing in his eyes, the commitment to Fidel to be so fierce. The large painted faces of Fidel and also Che and also Camilo roughly the city, slogans such together "Viva El Socialismo!" in vivid red below, spoke quantities to the nationwide esprit of having been freed from early american oppression.

But us are practically six decades past Batista now. The days of the just of Pigs are also long-ago history. There is naught to are afraid from each other. No reason to more punish each other.

My swim from Cuba to Florida, as well as the personal an obstacle to make endurance history across a wild, epic ocean, was always meant to additionally make a explain of positive reconnection between our two beautiful nations. As well many, ~ above both sides, have wanted for too lengthy to know each other, to gain the vibrant Cuban culture, to aid the Cubans restore economic stability.

Our Team was invited to Havana this past Labor Day, on the anniversary that our effective crossing native Havana to vital West, September 2, 2013. It to be the very first time in thirty years that the American and Cuban flags to be flown with each other in an official government building in Havana. The an initial time the American nationwide Anthem had been played at an official occasion in thirty years. Us wept through pride. And so go the Cubans. We all wept since this Swim to be a universal blog post of will, come Never ever Give Up. But we wept in component because our two countries understood the magic of the endeavor and also the Cubans helped us v every step. We wept due to the fact that we all want a far better life for these great people, our friends and neighbors.

I deserve to tell friend our Team was an extremely emotional a few weeks ago, when both president Obama and also Raul Castro announced the new era the rapprochement between us.

To be perfect accurate, that is 103 miles, the the next distance in between Cuba and Florida. A long time ago, the nautical measure of 90 was assigned, a measurement offered by only big ships in ~ sea. We measure distances across the sea between countries in state miles. Because that instance, that is 28 miles approximately Manhattan Island. That"s statute miles. To trust me, it"s 103 mile to Cuba. I need to know.

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One much more personal note, to mine mother, no longer with us. Mom, it"s so close, Cuba, the somebody has actually actually swum there.

This post is component of a Huffington article blog collection called "90 Miles: rethinking the Future the U.S.-Cuba Relations." The series puts the spotlight ~ above the emerging relations between two long-standing western Hemisphere foes and also will feature pre-eminent believed leaders indigenous the public and private sectors, academia, the NGO community, and also prominent observers native both countries. Read all the other articles in the collection here.