Once I heard news of Cuba opening to United States tourism, I felt compelled to share not only my opinion but the history rooted in the Cuban people and government as well. My family's insight and long history with Cuba I believe offers a perspective that I'm able to communicate with most people who ask me, "What's going on in Cuba? When can I visit, and where should I go?"
I want people to know this beautiful island, but I am also very passionate about sharing the plight of the people currently in the state of Cuba.
It's no secret that Cuba is open for travel now. For the first time in most of our lives, Americans are now able to visit the "Pearl in the Caribbean".
The Carnival Freedom will be the first cruise ship to travel to Cuba in over 50 years, sending 704 passengers to the beautiful island on May 1 of this year.
It is an incredible moment in history to finally see the leaders of American and Cuban government come together to "extend the hand of friendship". And while differences still remain, this undoubtedly opens a door to a brand new relationship between the citizens of America and Cuba.
But before you book your tickets to "time travel in paradise", please learn about the island that my family called home and fled from to seek freedom and a brighter future.
Contrary to what it says in this photo, Cuba isn't Rising. Truth is, its doors are open but its people are not free. Liberty for Cuba and a real change is what the people of this beautiful island need. In other words, give us a "Cuba Libre"
For the last 60 years Cubans have endured a lack of human rights that we take for granted here in the US. The communist/socialist government lead by dictator brothers Fidel & Raul Castro have controlled all necessities for living including food, clothes, medicine and basic human freedoms.
Imagine for a moment not being able to go grocery shopping or to get the medicine you need and imagine you couldn't say what ever you wanted or tweet about your view on life. Imagine the home you just bought being taken away from you by the government.
Americans want Capitalism in Cuba, but the people in Cuba need Freedom and basic human rights like freedom of speech.
Amidst these concerns, however, we have individuals like Papito Viaderes, a 42-year-old Cuban entrepreneur and small business owner in Cuba who is responsible for bringing economic and social awareness to his community.
Viaderes pioneered a cultural project that enabled his team to create a “Hairdresser’s Alley” known as Arte Corte. His shop is designed to teach the barber’s and hairdresser’s trade and to encourage young people from the community to learn it.
By all means travel to Cuba; it's filled with culture, beauty and wonder. Yes, it's beaches are beautiful, of course the cars are cool, the cigars are the best and the rhythm of the street will make you dance! The houses and buildings are reminiscent of early 19th century architecture meets zombie apocalypse - history can be found all over the island.
When you visit, don't stay in a fancy hotel - instead, give your money to the amazing people and stay at a "Casa Particular" using @Airbnb. By doing this, you will be supporting the people of Cuba, and not the government in this "forbidden paradise".