In late June 2015, Giancarlo Sopo got off a plane in Havana, Cuba, where his cousins waited for him in a 1980s-era Lada. He wasn’t sure what they looked like, but was immediately embraced by his relatives, who recognized him from photos. He stayed for ten days in Santos Suarez, a suburb just outside the city, in the same home where his family had lived for four generations.
Born and raised in the Miami neighbourhood known as Little Havana to Cuban exile parents, Sopo says he felt like a “sommelier that had never stepped foot in a vineyard.”
This week, Sopo and other CubaOne members wrote an open letter to Trump outlining a series of recommended initiatives focused on family-centered policy and open travel. As Cherie Cancio, a founder and programming lead of CubaOne, puts it: “Any sort of setbacks or changes with travel restrictions do not make sense anymore for our community.” CubaOne isn’t a political advocacy organization, but with a policy retreat possible, its leaders decided “they need to speak up and be a voice on behalf of our organization, but also as a millennial group of Cuban-Americans,” Cancio says.
CubaOne isn’t alone in speaking out for the Cuban community. Also this week, 55 Cuban businesswomen on the island wrote a letter asking Ivanka Trump to work with her father to preserve the Cuba opening. “A setback in the relationship would bring with it the fall of many of our businesses and, with this, the suffering of all those families that depend on them,” they said in the letter.
“Obviously, as the children of exiles we’ve learned about Cuba our entire lives,” Sopo says. “But I think it’s important to see things for yourself. You walk away with your own conclusions.”