As a way of extending an olive branch to Cuba, President Obama has taken steps to allow Cuban Americans to reach out to family members who still live on the island by traveling freely there, sending U.S. currency and allowing the transport of humanitarian aide to the Cuban people. Some think lifting the 47-year-old U.S. trade embargo isn’t far away. Playwright and actress Carmen Peláez, born in Miami to Cuban parents, offers her comments on President Obama’s decision to promote democracy and human rights towards her parent’s homeland.
Fidel Castro and his cynical dictatorship has failed miserably in all but one regard: its ability to divide the Cuban people. Being a Cuban American, having traveled to the island and seen with my own eyes the havoc and the destruction this dictatorship has wreaked, I’m beyond hopeful about President Obama’s specific and thoughtful policy change towards Cuba.
Perhaps no current leader understands better than President Obama that change comes from within. I believe this new policy will create the perfect climate for transition. Not only will it reunite families but it will build countless bridges between people who have been sequestered from a modern world and those who have benefited from living in a democratic society. Cubans will finally be able to help themselves without bowing down to oppression. Those who challenge the establishement such as the Ladies in White, a group of women who silently protested their husband’s, brother’s and son’s arrests in the Cuban Black Spring and other dissidents such as Jorge Luis Garcia Perez Antunez, Yoani Sanchez, and Oswaldo Payá will be able to continue their peaceful and courageous struggle with the full support of the Cuban diaspora.
My people are resourceful, resilient, and creative. With an American president that rejects the false narrative dictated by the Castro regime, I am sure that this will be the first of many changes leading to a unified and democratic Cuba.
Carmen Peláez was born in Miami to Cuban parents. She is a playwright and actor currently residing in Brooklyn, New York. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Carmen Peláez.