Westport’s Cubans React To Thaw

Yesterday’s announcement by Presidents Barack Obama and Raúl Castro of a new relationship between their 2 nations surprised Americans and Cubans alike.

The news was particularly stunning for the small number of Westporters with Cuban heritage.

Yvonne Sabin Claveloux

Yvonne Sabin Claveloux

Yvonne Sabin Claveloux is a 1983 graduate of Staples High School. She grew up here, but her parents are Cuban. She says:

I think it’s time, but I have very mixed feelings. On the positive side, this gives hope that it will open dialogue to address issues in a diplomatic level.

On the negative, it will give the Castros a lifeline at a moment when they are desperate due to Venezuela’s crash due to decline in oil prices. There are also no concessions regarding the human rights of the Cuban people.

Tony Hernandez is 80 years old. He was born and raised in Cuba, but left in 1960. He says:

I feel that President Obama’s decision to normalize relations with Cuba’s communist regime is a very positive step. It ends 53 years of isolation, and simultaneously eases all the vicissitudes and misery the Cuban people have been suffering.

His daughter, Maite Hernandez, says:

I  just read that 7 million tourists are expected to visit Cuba, as opposed to 2 million in the past year. On the one hand, the flow of visitors and the money they bring will definitely boost the economy of Cuba, at a time where they have run out of countries to support them. I just hope this will translate to a better economic level for the local Cubans.

It remains to be seen whether  human rights issues will be addressed. There can be no compromise regarding this matter. Otherwise this move by President Obama will be seen as political, with the only purpose of securing himself a place in the history books.

Maite Hernandez and her father Tony.

Maite Hernandez and her father Tony.

12 responses to “Westport’s Cubans React To Thaw

  1. A long overdue step. Human rights cannot possibly change if Cuba continues to exist in isolation.

    • Eric William Buchroeder SHS '70

      Hear, hear, Nancy.!!! We agree totally. In the spirit of reconciliation, it’s time to disclose your real last name.

      • She had disclosed her full married name in earlier posts but it apparently caused some confusion with a current Westport resident. She reverted to her birth name for more recent posts; her oldest brother, Tim Hunter, was a year behind you at Staples (and was a star on the soccer team).

  2. The economic possiblities for the Cuban people could be quite remarkable if allowed by the Cuban government. The proximity to the US and the diversity of the island wil make it a very unique, if not the ultimate resort destination for vacationing Americans. I’m sure many resort and hotel folk are clamouring to get a piece of the pie.
    The future for the neighboring Island countries like the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, Caymans, West Indies etc.may not be all that rosey. Time will tell.

  3. Arlene Avellanet

    As the wife of a Westport Cuban who came as a parolee in 1962 and the mother of two Cuban American Stapelites, I can say that those young that did not experience or continue to experience the financial, cultural and emotional losses of a lifetime and have benefited from being in the States are in no position to say normalization is overdue. They haven’t a clue as to the resident evil in Cuba.

    It is still a communist government. Putting money in the pockets of the government will NOT benefit the populace. Totally naive.

  4. So I have to take the other side of this–with Fidel Castro sick and his brother Raul in his eighties (did you see him in his military uniform after Obamas announcement), why the decision now? If we waited a few more years the dictator brothers who clearly have huge human rights issue, probably ending (dying) could we have waited to engage with whoever was the new leadership? At that time would we have a better chance that the Cubans have truly benefitted from our relationship? Did we now give credence to the Castro brothers when time was on the side of the Cubans? And with Venezuela in real trouble due to the decline in oil prices, it is well known the Castro’s were facing difficulties.

    So why the rush all of a sudden? And why is Obama doing this now? Have we turned against all those that fought against the human rights issues?

    I just ask. We waited it out until the Castro’s would end yet now what? Do we really know if the Cubans will benefit? Or did we give credibility to people who have violated humans rights for decades? I thought human rights were a liberal agenda issue?

    So I had to ask. It just seems to be a decision based on questionable reasons.

    Ok-I guess some will attack the questions.

    • Eric William Buchroeder SHS '70

      You are expressing the feelings of someone who remembers the 60’s and 70’s (as I do too). But if the Cuban people will benefit and we will as well, then a step in the right direction is hard to fault.

      • Eric. Not thinking of the 60’s or 70’s. Would not have to worry about that.

        What concerns me is what the Cubans got for this agreement. Trade and tourism already exist in Cuba the the people get nothing-other than human rights issues. They don’t own anything. They get no benefits.

        So what did Obama negotiate and what did the Cubans get? A prisoner swap where they got the better of the deal. No doubt.

        And we now give credibility to 2 dictators. And let’s think-Fidel is sick and no long for life and Raul who showed up to announce the deal in his military uniform is in his 80’s. Could we not have waited for the next regime and negotiate something? Please tell me what the Cubans got that they don’t have today?

        Cuba has provided arms to our enemies and have for decades had serious human rights issues. What amazes me is how quickly you want to forget it and not ask what is best for the ‘Cubans’.

        So I don’t believe this is good. I will, however, read what others who have expertise or relatives speak up.

        I just found the timing horrible and have not read anything that WE got or better yet, what the Cubans got that they don’t have today.

        Happy holidays.

  5. Maite Hernandez Navarro

    I respect your opinion and many in your generation feel the way you do and that is understandable. But, how can you say that we have NO clue if our parents were Cuban Exiles.
    We grew up listening to our parents explain how difficult it was to leave their parents and siblings behind. How painful it was to leave the country they loved and start all over.
    Struggles… yes I know about those too. I lived in the same roof as my parents.

    If you knew your family, still in Cuba, If you had kept going back to stay close to them and help them; you would want to ease their suffering and NOT allow the regime to prevent you from giving them what they needed.

    Its the 21st Century for crying out loud. How will you help the people of Cuba with that attitude? Isn’t that what really matters in the end.
    DO you rather be RIGHT or do you rather them BE HAPPY.
    Its not about the past anymore, Its about human beings who deserve a better FUTURE.

  6. Sharon Paulsen

    Well … I suppose in the minds of many, there will never be a “good” time to approach this. There will always be fodder for opposition: philosophically … politically … geographically … emotionally. But I concur with Nancy Hunter’s emote, and in the spirit of that point, if not now, then when? when? when? when? By whom?

  7. Michelle Ludel

    As the daughter of Cuban exiles I know it’s hard for me to be completely objective about this, but I don’t see how this will benefit people living in Cuba. Tourism dollars have been coming in for years, Cuban people don’t legally benefit. I don’t see how this change will grant them any freedom of speech, or help them to open a business or purchase a home, or even give them the freedom to leave the island. This is just giving a new lifeline to the Castros and funding a communist repressive regime.Maybe this will be a start to change something which will eventually change other things for the better but I am very skeptical.

    • Thank you. Your perspective helps us all to understand your emotion to this very surprising decision.