Portrait of Alina Fernandez Castro
What were some of the difficulties you faced?
“I’ve been in the United States for 18 years. I had to re-learn everything: how to talk, because I didn’t know how to speak English, and how to function in a society that was more free but also much more complex than Cuban society. In Cuba you have no choices to make, everything is decided for you. Even what you say, what you eat, and where you buy the food that they’ve assigned to you. Even in 2012, ration cards, la Libreta, still exist in Cuba. Each family receives a ration in order to survive. But this rationing system doesn't allow for most Cubans to regularly drink milk, eat meat, or other necessary products. They’re beginning to lift the system, but it’s complicated. The biggest concern in Cuba is how you’re going to put food on the table. After the fall of the Soviet Union, there were serious shortages, and children still don’t drink enough milk in Cuba. Some adapt to the system, others don’t, because all the decisions are made for you: education, nutrition, etc. There is no room for free speech, not even in business, everything is controlled. The state is your mother and father."