The communist country of Cuba has a population of 11,265,629 residents. If one were to read the basic statistics of Cuba, one might be led to believe it is a peaceful place to live filled with freedoms. For example, the unemployment rate is a low 1.7%. Residents have the joy of seeing beautiful tropical views daily and the cars… Most are 1960’s daily drivers that are fun to look at and fun to own.
However, out of a population of over 11 million residents, only 331,000 have the freedom to own their own cell phone. Furthermore, private citizens are prohibited from buying a computer or accessing the internet, never seeing what is beyond the clear Caribbean waters they are surrounded by. No, internet and cell phones are not everything, but they are two shining examples of the lack of freedom that exists. Another issue is that freedom of speech is non existent in Cuba.
That lack of freedom is one major reason why residents of Cuba like Julio are fleeing the country and heading to America. I met Julio on the streets of Kentucky. While he is homeless today and lacks a smart phone to access the internet, he does have that one word that so often we forget about… Freedom. For that, he is a blessed man.
I could barely understand the words that Julio spoke as his English was poor, but his life was now rich with the freedom to express his own fears, his thoughts and struggles.
At the young age of 34, Cuban American actor William Levy knows the difficulties of Cuba. He recently stated, “In Cuba you get a quarter of a chicken per month. They give you one bread per person a day. So, it makes your life really tough.”