Meeting the Congresswoman
A few days ago, a couple of friends invited Oleivys and I to have an American breakfast. As I always say, the future is unpredictable. We were with my friend Olga, American by birth but Cuban by heart and descent, and her husband Frank, who escaped Cuba during the rafter crisis in 1994 and spent various months in the naval base of Guantanamo. They both suffer the pain of seeing their country enslaved, and one can clearly see that pain whenever the couple talks about the subject. You can also see the interest they express to help the peaceful dissidents on the island who confront the regime.
After heading out to an I-Hop near their home, we had to turn back because I had left some of my papers and my phone in the car. In one of those coincidences of destiny, we decided to head to another I-Hop. In all honesty, we were not even sure why it was we had chosen to go to another one.
A few minutes after sitting at the table in the restaurant, a familiar looking woman walked in- she was short, blonde, and was smiling while holding the arm of a man a bit older than her. She was dressed like everyone else that was there and she made the line to sit down just like everybody else. I’ve always believed that doubts weigh heavier than the truth and I could no longer support my curiosity. I turned to my friends and told them that the woman looked a lot like Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.
I must confess that it was a somewhat confusing moment for me. I have lived the majority of my life in a closed society, thanks to a totalitarian system, where American politicians who defend the freedom of Cuba are constantly attacked by the dictatorship. On the other hand, I can also remember the differences between politicians who make up the elite part of the Cuban nomenclature and the everyday Cuban. The closest I have ever come to seeing a Cuban politician has been on TV.
Olga, very sure of her political knowledge, confirmed that it was indeed Ileana Ros. Frank enthusiastically took me to the congresswoman and presented me to her.
We chatted with the same natural tone of any two Cubans who long to see their nation in freedom. She demonstrated much concern for the island, for my family, and my current situation. I told her about the vulnerable situation in which former political prisoners and their families living in Spain are in, and how soon the help given to them by the Spanish government will come to an end. They have all been going to interviews and are waiting to receive a Visa for the United States, but for reasons unknown to me, they have not yet received the authorizations.
After a few minutes of conversation, we sat back down at our respective tables to have breakfast, which was exquisite. And the company of Olga and Frank made the morning very well worth it.
Before leaving, the Congresswoman passed by our table to say goodbye and to show us the photo we took together. She told us that she had already sent out an e-mail to her secretary informing him that in the next couple of days I would pass by her office to talk about the Cuban refugees in Spain and other topics of common interest.
I profoundly meditated that night and I understood, more than ever, that in a democracy we are all equal. Despite how much influence one may yield, they cannot look down upon others. Despite how much political power a person may have, they still have to make lines, eat amongst everyday people, and dress like everyone else, because in the end they are just simple human beings like all of us. Overall, I learned a very important lesson: that democracy gives you the possibility of setting your own limit. Every person can achieve whatever they want, depending on just how capable they are to push on in life.