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Title: Carolina Hospital
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Title: Carolina Hospital
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Language: English
Publisher: Samuel Proctor Oral History Program
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: July 31, 2002
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Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
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Table of Contents
    Copyright
        Copyright
    Interview
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COPYRIGHT NOTICE


This Oral History is copyrighted by the Interviewee
and the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program on
behalf of the Board of Trustees of the University of
Florida.

Copyright, 2005, University of Florida.
All rights, reserved.

This oral history may be used for research,
instruction, and private study under the provisions
of Fair Use. Fair Use is a provision of United States
Copyright Law (United States Code, Title 17, section
107) which allows limited use of copyrighted
materials under certain conditions.
Fair use limts the amount of material that may be
used.

For all other permissions and requests, contact the
SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida









CAWP 1
Interviewee: Carolina Hospital
Interviewer:
Date: July 31, 2002


B: We're interviewing today Carolina Hospital on July 31, 2002. I wanted to know a
little bit of when you arrived from Cuba, why you left Cuba, and if you arrived
here in Miami, what did you find.

H: Actually, I didn't come straight to Miami. I left Cuba as a child. I left Cuba when I
was four because my parents brought me. We left, according to my mother's
story, we left through Jamaica, we were there just a short period of time. Then
from there, we went to Puerto Rico and there we lived for five years. So up to my
age of nine I was in Puerto Rico. Then we came to Miami when I was nine and I
stayed here in Miami until I went away to college. So I really feel like Miami's
home. I have good memories of Puerto Rico, but since I was so young, they're
really not that vivid either. Miami was different from Miami today. Miami back
then, it was less Latinized. Miami really got Latinized when I went away to
school in probably 1976 or 1977, and I didn't come back until the middle of the
1980s, 1984, 1985. So I think the Latinization of Miami really occurred in the
early 1980s, so actually I was surprised when I came back to find Miami so
Latinized. Back when I was growing up, there weren't the Spanish radio stations
and if you wanted granisado, you had to go to Little Havana, that was a place to
go. It was just a different city really. I've written a lot of essays published are
about that, about kind of identity, wanting to be more Americanized, the age of
Twiggy identity things. Then I went to UF and there everyone kept saying oh,
you're so Cuban. And I'm like what do you mean I'm so Cuban, I'm American,
what are you guys talking about?

B: You got to UF in what year?

H: I got to UF in 1976, I think in the fall of 1976, I think. What's interesting is that my
daughter started in UF now in 2002 and she told me that she was born here in
Miami and she was so funny because with me at least I always thought I spoke
Spanish until I was nine so maybe it's true I have an accent, even though I
thought I didn't have an accent especially since I did everything in English, my
undergraduate was in English, I didn't have bilingual education, everything was in
English. But now at UF, she tells me that people come up to her and say where
are you from, you have an accent. And she's like what do you mean I have an
accent, I'm an American like you. So I think it's funny that Miami has gotten
more Latinized that sometimes I hear my daughter with a little even more of a
Latin intonation than I have. We both have it obviously, but you'd think she
would have less. I think it's because of the way Miami has evolved. I think it will
be like the Boston theory, that it's going to be like the Boston accent or you can
tell when someone's from California. I think it's going to have its unique
intonation in Miami because you can't avoid the influence of the Hispanic









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population. Anyway, that's my beginning. Then I came here and then I stayed
here, I got married and I went away. I was at the University of Miami and I
transferred to the University of Florida and that's where I ended up doing all my
graduate work, and then I came back here in 1984 and then I've been teaching
since then and publishing.

B: I want to know a little bit about when you were in Gainesville and you were one of
the founders of the Cuban-American Student Association. What drove you to
start that?

H: At the beginning when we got there, we weren't really that involved in any
student organization when I was an undergraduate. Then in graduate school, we
started to meet people, mainly a lot of people that were in literature. There was a
Cuban Federation at the time, but it had been very, very political and then by the
time that we got there actually had gone the reverse and had turned into almost
like the reaction to being too politicized. By the time we got there, it had turned
into a very social organization and so I've always have this strong commitment to
culture, education not necessarily hardcore politics but culture and education:
taking people out of ignorance and bringing information and truth to them. Very
important people that I met were Lilian Berto and Alicia Rodriguez and Ricardo
Pau-Llosa. I think us two along with the three of them were probably the
strongest voices. Lilian and Alicia were older and we started to meet, they were
in graduate school also, Ricardo was in English and Lilian was in Spanish, but
you know, we met. We felt all of us that the Federation was too social, that we
needed something that wouldn't be just Cuban-Cuban because especially like
myself I felt very Cuban-American, so that's why we said let's have a different
organization that would start like fresh that would be the Cuban-American
Student Association that you could be Cuban-Cuban or you could be Cuban-
American and still feel like you belonged to it, that would reach out. In a way, it
was kind of like we wanted to transition the new generation with the older
generation and the information. Let the new generation know, like a link, and we
wanted to do a lot of cultural activities. Because we were in literature, most of
us, like my husband was also part of it, Carlos Medinas, he was in history. Then
later Jorge Cantera came, he was younger, and he was in history also. You can
tell we had a lot of liberal arts people, political science, but we were all interested
in the humanities. So we started bringing people from those fields like we
brought exciting things, we brought Heraldo Arenas we brought Alberto Parilla.
I think almost fresh like even a year or two of them coming to exile we brought
them. Then we brought people from historical point of view like Carlos Franke
and Huben Matos came in one event. Then we had younger writers. We
probably had the first Cuban-American panels, the writers that are now more
established, but when they were much younger we had Cuban-American writers
there who were just starting, maybe had just published one book, whatever.









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B: What was the reaction of the Gainesville community when you started bringing
people to come and speak about what was going on in Cuba at that time
because it was...

H: When you mean the Gainesville community, you don't mean the regular people,
you mean like professors? There's a big difference in the student community
and the professor community. The student community, and even within the
student community you have to distinguish. When we got there and I in
particular, I was in the graduate program in Spanish, but I got a Fulbright
Fellowship to study immigrant studies. I have a graduate certificate in Latin
American Studies which is more general than just literature because I love all
that stuff. So I got a cubicle in Grinter Hall in Latin American Studies to work on
my immigration, and I took a lot of courses in sociology and economics all related
to immigration, but at the time in the late 1970s, the political ideology was very
pro-Castro by the people that were coming from the Carribean, Latin America, a
lot of the students, the graduate students that were doing all these projects had
their view of what Cuba was like. So it was not easily accepted by the people
that were in politics, sociology, economics, Latin American studies, which is a
whole different story from maybe the Anglo community. The same thing with the
student body. So basically, we were not well received by that group. Now the
young, the students, other members of the community and other students that
were not in that vein who were maybe studying engineering or architecture or
history, but were not necessarily in Latin American Studies, we had incredible
turnouts to all the events. All the events were really full. We would have
hundreds of people come out to the event. So there was a great interest for what
we were doing. That segment that I'm speaking about that were taken aback by
us, those were a smaller group but significant. But then in terms of the wider
community, they were all very well received.

B: I was reading __ and not to say CASA has also progressed, although I'm
going to be honest, I wish I could see in CASA the amount of cultural and
educational service that you did to CASA back then now. I think that maybe now
that I've been interviewing so many women in different spectrums of society here
in Miami, maybe now I can go back and say okay, let's do a project on this and
let's bring this organization here, and let's bring different people so that maybe
we can start that whole education part of CASA back.

H: I thought I discussed that when we went to CASA recently this year, my husband
and I talked about it. We said I can tell from what they're involved in that they're
really not doing the kind of things we used to do. Then at first I was kind of sad,
oh they're not really doing it, but then I thought they invited us, we're writers.
That's just a joke, but my other reaction was that maybe it's a good sign, though.
I think that we did all that because we felt a little bit threatened because there
was such a kind of hostility towards us coming from Miami. I don't think things









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have changed that much, maybe they've changed a little, it was even worse back
then, but I think perhaps we felt threatened or we felt that our identity as Cuban-
Americans was not validated. Basically, everyone wanted to say that we didn't
exist, that we weren't really Cubans. Now, forty years later, it's very difficult for
people, twenty years later. Even now, believe me, I hear people still with the
same argument, they haven't really progressed. I wish they had a more
sophisticated argument, but there are some people recently that happened with
my husband at his work that a lady was using some of the same arguments from
twenty years ago. An example is one of my professors, I won't mention names,
but when I say we were looking for funding for something, his reaction was well
why don't you get one of those fat cats from Miami to pay it. I thought first of all
how unprofessional and second of all he's really insulting people like my dad and
my mother who live in Miami and he's calling them fat cats. Then number three,
he's revealing how he sees people in Miami. Like a bunch of batistianos who
took out millions of money out, which shows their ignorance, and that was my big
thing back then. People were very ignorant to who we were. People thought, oh
yeah, all this generation of the 1960s came with luggage full of money and that
was like a tiny group of people that came in 1959 and they don't know the story
of so many factory workers, you know the story.

B: That's kind of what I want to do too. When you leave Christina Garcia's
interview and she's like, there are two different or three different types of Cubans.
There's a Miami Cuban, there's the other Cuban, and then there's a Cuban.
And then when she said something like that I was like the Miami Cuban, and
what are the Miami Cubans like and why are they so generalized? There's such
a diverse amount of Cubans who think differently.

M: Outside of Miami, and even in Miami, there's still a bias and you're still getting it.
This is really ironic that you mentioned Christina Garcia. I was interviewed by
someone from London of all places who mentioned Christina Garcia and said
oh Christina Garcia doesn't really talk very well about Miami Cubans, this is
what the woman from London said. Then I said well, it doesn't surprise me, there
are a lot of people outside of Miami and even in Miami that don't speak well
about Miami Cubans. I think number one, it's based on ignorance. But I think
number two is that it supports, it confirms their ideology like we've almost
become, it's almost like we're not people, we're an ideology. It's like they've put
us all together into this one big block and we have to be evil because if there's
any possibility that we're a decent, open, liberal, progressive people then what
does that say about the other side? It's almost like a lot of people have bought
into the propaganda that's been put out. I'm not saying that Miami's perfect. I've
grown up here, it's my home, but no place is perfect. In Miami you find all... it's
like 10 percent of the Cuban population so that's a big chunk of Cubans. What
you're finding here is a wide spectrum of all kinds of people, multi-generational.
People think we're all rich. The majority of Cubans in Miami are working class.









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Statistically, the majority of Cubans in Miami are working class.

B: And they worked very hard to reach that working class or that middle class.

H: Right. And the middle class one worked really hard too to get there, but I'm
saying not even middle class. When people think it's middle and up, if you look
at the numbers, if you include all of Dade County what's Hialeah?

B: And Little Havana.

H: Little Havana doesn't even have that many Cubans anymore, but I'm saying
statistically that. Then you have a wide spectrum of politics and yes there's unity
in terms of the enemy that the majority of people are against communism and
against Castro, but within that opposition there's even openness and there's
multi-generation and there's different attitudes. There's a lot of consumerism, I'm
not happy with that, but then also I think there's a lot of ignorance that people
don't understand about immigration. That's why I'm so happy that I studied
immigration because people don't understand the first generation of any
immigrant group is always more concerned with material survival. It's only the
second and third and fourth generations that begin to become interested in
culture and the opera and civic institutions. The first Poles, the first Italians, the
first Jews, they are not the ones that are giving out their money, they're worried
about putting their kids through college. Even so, you've met a lot of those
women like my mother who, even though they were first generation, they still
were very instrumental in helping...

B: And worrying about the rest of their community.

H: Exactly, but that's not the typical thing in immigrant communities. If you study it it
shows that the first generation, they're worried about survival and moving their
own kids up. Then those kids when they go to college and they're a little bit more
secure, then they're the ones that begin to reach out into the community.
Another problem accused of "Miami Cubans", first that one, materialism, that they
don't help, and then the other thing is that they say that they're not interested in
culture. My contention is that what percentage of any culture is interested in high
culture? I don't think that the Cubans are any worse or any better. I just think
people see what they want to see and people don't really want to understand and
learn and be here, and a lot of people that write about Miami Cubans come visit
Miami once in awhile. They're not really working on a daily basis like I've been
doing. I've been teaching fifteen years at Miami Dade dealing everyday with
people and a lot of my students, one of the things I love about Miami Dade is a
lot of my students, 50 percent of them probably or more in every classroom, are
Cuban-American. Not that I don't love all the other ones too, but it gives me a









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sense of reward that I'm helping my own community in terms of being Cuban-
American. You got me on a passionate subject.

B: Thank you for sharing that. I really need to learn and know about that as well.
Why they're so generalized and know the little facts of first, second, and third
[generations], the different generational gaps, and what was the purpose of the
first one and what was the purpose of [the second one]. It's something that I've
also been reading and looking at because it's important for me to know why am I
now reaching out to my community the way I am here and wherever it is that I go.
I see what my grandparents went through, I see how hard my parents have
worked to put me through college, now it's my turn to go out there...

H: Into the community, right. Also, another thing I think that there is a lack of
understanding that we're basically an exile community, especially the first few
waves. It's debatable I would say the last ten years, but it's something for
sociologists to determine, but I wonder about them solely exiled as opposed to
economic immigrants, but that's another topic. When you look at an exile
community, they're very different from an immigrant community. [For] Miami, the
first twenty or thirty years have been purely an exile immigration that also means
that people that came, who were already successful middle class people
expected to do as well. Most immigrants that come from other countries, unless
they're political exiles, but if they're economic immigrants usually the people that
come are lower skilled or uneducated in general. So those people have a really
hard time working their way up. There's been a lot of assimilation theories about
the way to make it, I don't know if you're familiar with Richard Rodriguez, he a
Mexican-American that write a lot about that. He's controversial because he
buys into the assimilation theory that to succeed, you have to become more like
Anglo, which has been the expectation of the 1950s and the 1960s. When the
Cubans got here, the first wave had already been part of the middle class in
Cuba. They didn't come from the lower ranks of their homeland, they came as
middle class. So when they got here and they saw that the Rotary wasn't letting
them in, the Chamber of Commerce wasn't letting them in, and the political
system wasn't letting them in, the other immigrant groups when they saw that
they said okay, this is what we're going to do. We're going to work really hard to
assimilate so that if not us, our children will get in. The Cubans said I'm not
waiting. We were there, we know what it's like so they did their own parallel
social ladder. A lot of what I'm talking about is from the book City on the Edge by
Alejandro Portes, I don't know if you're familiar with that but I highly recommend
you read it. What happens is that they did a parallel social structure and that a
lot of them could more quickly come up and that's why Cubans today have
political power and economic power, social and cultural power. People don't
understand that. People outside of Miami, even within Miami they don't
understand the process. I think some of the resentment is well who do they think
they are? How could they do that? They don't understand just the whole









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phenomena of what happened in Miami and I always tell people if you want to
understand Miami read City on the Edge because it really explains it well.

B: Also, the help that the Cubans got from the federal government.

H: He talks about that. He talks about aid, he also talks about loans from banks that
were character loans that were established and there were 100 percent returns
on those loans up to a certain year. After that, they had to stop doing it because
people didn't know each other and there's a whole different population. Again,
he explains it really well. I think there's resentment too of who do those Cubans
think they are because we said you know what, we're not going to wait and we're
not going to be at the bottom of the rank. We're going to become professors and
we're going to be part of the Rotary and if you don't want us in the Rotary, fine.
That's why the Quojuanas started their own thing. We'll do our own, fine. Don't
bother us, we won't bother you, you can't stop us. The support, the enclave, they
talk about the Cuban enclave, it's a great support. People think we did it, a lot of
people that see now Miami, they don't understand that it was a reaction to
rejection, that it was a reaction to being excluded, that Cubans didn't start their
own organizations because they said we don't want to be Anglo, we don't want to
be like them, no. If you study in the 1960s and 1970s, Cubans were rejected.
Mannie Mendoza talks about he grew up in Tampa, in the 1960s there were
signs on the beaches that no dogs or Cubans on the beach. People don't know
the history of that.

B: Or we don't rent to Cubans.

H: Right. So people think oh, they don't want to be part of the Anglo mainstream,
that's why they've done that. No. If you know the history, you know that Cubans
were not being allowed. The difference is that instead of waiting another
generation and for those kids to get assimilated and da-da-da, they said okay
fine because it's an exile community that had already known what it was like to -
they knew how to achieve because in Cuba they had already achieved. It's a lot
easier to make it to the top of the hill if you've been there and fallen down than to
go the first time. For the other immigrants, they're going up to a mountain
they've never seen before, but Cubans had been up at the top of the mountains
in terms of social, economic power in Cuba. They fell down, they had to wash
dishes.

B: And they had to go out into the fields and the factories.

H: Exactly, but they knew that if they did this and they saved money and they
supported each other that they could come back up, you had the skill.
Succeeding in life is also about having skills, put away $10 out of your $40, a lot
of people don't do that. That's why I'm so dedicated to education. Even in one









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of my courses, I teach a required course 1102 which is Argumentative Writing
and I use the book City on the Edge there. The whole course revolves around
Miami issues and there are research papers about Miami because I think that
people don't even Cuban-Americans here I think people don't know the
history and so they have a lot of preconceptions, they see things in a way that
isn't really the process of how it came about and I think that leads to a lot more
resentment and a lot more false information being put out. Or people not being
able to explain themselves like when people say those things to you about Miami,
a lot of people say uh, okay. I say educate yourself so at least you can have an
educated answer when people make those kinds of derogatory statements.

B: I wanted to ask you a little bit about the National Writers Voice Project. What
went in it, what did you get out of it, why you decided to do it?

M: I was already published author and working at Miami Dade as a professor and
then someone approached me, it was a New York institution called the National
Writers Voice Project, and they wanted someone to start a branch in Miami. It
was a big sacrifice because I was working full time at the time still and I had a
young daughter, but I really believed in the project that for me literature is part of
education and I wanted to use literature to reach communities and to bring
communities together. I definitely agree that in Miami, one of the challenges that
Miami has is to bring the different communities together because we're very
segmented. Nicaraguans are with Nicaraguans, Haitians with Haitians, and
Cubans with Cubans so I decided to take on the project as a way of using
literature as a community outreach and that's exactly one of the things we did. A
lot of the literary programs that are done through libraries or academic
institutions, usually they'll take an African-American writer and take him to Liberty
City and they'll take a Cuban and take him to where they think Cubans live, or an
Anglo and put him I don't know where the Anglos are today maybe in Coral
Gables or something. But we wanted to do the opposite. We wanted to take an
African-American writer and even if they did a visit to, like we brought in Tasaki
Shange and we took her to Edison High School which is predominantly African-
Americans, we thought for the kids it would be a good role model, but we had her
also read in Kendall. What was very important to us is to take a non-traditional
approach and we brought together writers from different backgrounds like a
Cuban writer with an African-American writer and put him in different venues. Of
course, I only was able to do it for two years and that takes a lot more time to do
something like that, but it's seeds that you put, constant seeds and you don't
know when they're going to blossom. That was one of the reason that I took on
the project was to do that.


B: You brought...









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H: Roy Blanc, Jr. who's basically a sports writer and columnist, and we had Dave
Berry who's a friend of his introduce him and we did that in a church in the
middle of Little Havana. So I'm not saying that 100,000 people came out, we had
a respectable turn out and it was fun. But you have to do it, it takes more than
two years to develop something really strong like that. We brought the first one
to inaugurate the whole event Cabrera Infante from London and we did that in
the middle of Coral Gables in a hotel and it was packed, I mean hundreds of
people, and it was pouring rain. I remember everyone came out and he was
wonderful. He's a very important Cuban-American writer who lives in London
who wrote Three Trapped Tigers (Tres Tristes Tigres). So I liked the idea that I
could contribute to promoting a lot of literature in the community, and use also
literature and writers as a way of bringing together, break barriers. I've always
my whole life, whether it's through literature or through education, that's what I've
dedicated my life to is to take away ignorance, to break barriers. I believe that to
care, you have to understand and a lot of people don't understand, that's why
they don't care. But you need to bring understanding about things to people.
That's why I took it on and that's why I did it for awhile.

B: I also wanted to know about one of the awards that you received in 1995 as a
recipient of [the] Hispanic Within Literature Award by the Coalition of Hispanic
American Women, were you part of the coalition?

H: No, I wasn't part of the coalition. I think they probably gave it to me because of
my anthology, I've done a lot of work. I've published a lot, but I've actually
published my novel. Some of my more recent publications are more recent than
the award. The award I think came from my work in promoting Hispanic literature
because for my master's thesis, I did a master's thesis on "the children of exile
and their literature" and then I published a lot of articles on Latino literature in the
U.S. I was also in 1994 a Resident Scholar teaching for weeks high school
teachers throughout all Florida about Hispanic literature in the U.S. I've done a
lot of work in promoting Latino literature as being including as part of the
curriculum. It's funny, I'm a Hispanic myself, I'm a Latina writer, I'm a Cuban
writer, but I didn't start doing it when I had done a lot of publications, I didn't do it
to promote my own work. I did it because I really believed that the students
needed to be exposed to that literature and in particular in South Florida. It's
hard to explain how in my regular 1101 composition or even in my world literature
classes, how to explain how when a student all of a sudden you tell them read
this by a Dominican or a Cuban or something all of a sudden they're so excited.
They're like wow, I can really related to this. I know the feeling too because I
read a lot about geese and snow when I was going to school and it was fine, I
love Robert Frost and I love all that, but when I started reading Carribean writers
and I started reading literature that really related to my own culture, I was like
wow, now we're talking. I really felt like I wanted other students to be exposed to
that. That's what I did my first anthology that I published A Labor of Love, a lot of









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my anthologies were through small presses was Cuban American Writers: Los
Atrevidos and it was the first anthology that did the second generation that wrote
in English. I called them Los Atrevidos because they dared to publish in English.
You can read the little introduction in the book that talks about that. It's like a
groundbreaker anthrology because no one had done anything like that and
brought... Now a lot of those writer like Ricardo has done, Ricardo Pau-Llosa has
published four books through Carnegie-Mellon. Paulo Medina has several books
of poetry, several novels, he's in there. I myself am included in there, now I have
a major novel through Warner that may be coming out into film. This was in the
1980s, this was when everyone was just starting so I'm very proud of that
anthology and we did it through Linden Lane. I even got women to help me fund
this project. "Support of Hispanic women in the Miami (this will be important to
you) we will especially acknowledge support..." and these are some of the
particular women that helped us through funding or support for the project
because we did this through Linden Lane, through Belkis. Belkis' dream, Belkis
Cuza Male is a Cuban poet who published Linden Lane. Editiones Ella is part of
Linden Lane. Her dream was that we would have a branch of Linden Lane Press
just to promoting either by women or of women, whatever. We did this and we
did the Tanya Diescastro book through Editiones Ella. But you know Belkis
works alone practically. She continues to do Linden Lane magazine, and she
does some other books of Linden Lane Press, but you need major work to get all
the funding for all these things, so we only did those first two. She does other
books through Linden Lane, but Editiones Ella we were not able to really pull it
off. She's done other things like I told you the other day she's at Fort Worth,
Texas, and now she does La Casa Azul which promotes Cuban culture in Fort
Worth, Texas, of all places. So I think that their work was mainly, which I was
very thankful for was a recognition for promoting Hispanic literature in the
community and bringing it to the community.

B: Talk now a little bit about Hispanic women. I wanted to know maybe in all the
things that you have been actively participating, did you ever feel discriminated
by other Hispanic men in the organization, by using position in the
organization and doing things, writing, or anything of that sort?

H: I think the only organization... See, I'm fortunate because I haven't felt it that
much because I'm an academic and when you're an academic you tend to get
people that are more progressive or at least they want to appear to be more
progressive because they're in academia. I was never part of the [Rotary], like
my husband who was in business for a while even though he's a teacher he went
in business for a while, he was part of the Rotary and the Chamber [of
Commerce] and he sense some of that condescension because he was Cuban.
I've never been in a business sector where I think it's perhaps more prevalent.
The only time I really felt it was when I was working with the YMCA and that was
out of academia and I was part of the Writers Voice, and so I did sense a bit of









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resentment there. I don't know if it was because I was a woman or because I
was Cuban, but probably because I was a Cuban, woman, Catholic, whatever. I
was everything that was different because the YMCA is Protestant even. It
wasn't that dramatic, it wasn't that bad, but that's the only place that I've really
experienced it. I think I've been fortunate, I don't think it means that it's not there.
I think that I haven't experienced it as strongly because I've been in academic
spheres and people disguise it a little better in there.

B: What do you think now in the year 2002 Hispanic women in Miami and elsewhere
that come from Miami or that have lived in Miami and are going to study in
Gainesville are dealing with? What do you think is there main challenge?

H: I don't know, I'll just tell you this. I also know that my attitude is very positive, I
forge ahead. I like Zora Neale Hurston who's an African American, I don't know
if you're familiar with her work, Their Eyes Were Watching God, a famous novel.
She also has an essay called...I'll find it for you later, but if I have a copy I'll give
you a copy so you can read it. Something like "Why I'm Colored Me" or
something like that, but it talks about her idea. I'm mentioning that because her
ideas I believe a lot in which is she was writing in the 1920s and 1930s and she
got into a lot of trouble with other African American male writers because she did
not want to assume a victim position and she felt like if people don't want to be
with me, why, because they're lost, and I'm going to forge ahead. She didn't
want to write about Blacks as victims and in her novel that was one of the things
she got criticized about because a lot of the African American writers at the time
were very angry and were writing angry literature about the oppression of Whites
on Blacks. It wasn't that she didn't recognize that that was happening, but she
felt that that was to reinforce the victim. What she did is she wrote novels about
women being empowered and she just wrote about Blacks in their Black
community and she felt that that was validating the Black experience and not
putting them as victims, but putting them as people. I think in the 1970s, Alice
Walker restored her grave, found her grave and a lot of her work has been
reevaluated and she's being validated more today. I admire her a lot and I kind
of think in that way like I don't think it's helpful to see ourselves as victims. I think
that people always whether you're the victim or the empowered one, people are
going to resent you so you might as well be the empowered one. I've always
been really positive like I don't harp on the negative, I really believe in using it as
an experience to move on. I think, though, to answer your question that the
biggest challenge might be how to juggle all the expectations or all the ambitions
that we may have as career women and family women because one very strong
value that Latins have is family, and as Cuban women we have it as well. So we
really, really value the support system that family gives and to juggle that with
also wanting to have careers is really difficult, then to find the partner that is
progressive (because to have a family you have to have a partner) and so it's
difficult. I see women marrying kind of outside the topic of our interviewing -









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but I do see women marrying outside of their Latin background which I think is
unfortunate because either they've have very negative experiences with Latin
men or they have preconceptions about Latin men based on reality or not. I think
that that's difficult because it's hard to maintain your roots and your culture and
your identity, but I understand why it happens. It's difficult anyway in all cultures
to maintain family. But going back to the whole feminismo thing, I think that's the
biggest challenge is how do you make men more feminine. How to find
progressive partners. They're there, but...

B: Or not necessarily that they have to be progressive, but that they start learning
from you what they think...

H: Yeah, but that makes them progressive because if they're willing to be open to
what you can teach them and to respect what you can share, that's what I
consider progressive. Open, compassionate, and I have to be honest with you
not malcriado. Let me say the biggest challenge to Latin women in that aspect is
going to be how they raise their Latin males because I don't blame just men, I
blame women. I think a lot of Latin women spoil Latin men when they're children,
and then they complain when they're adults and they're spoiled adults. I say well
really, duh. I know friends that for example have had really negative marriages
because they consider their spouses to be very immature and spoiled this and
that, and they've divorced and then they have their own sons and they do the
same things to their sons, they spoil their sons and they create these immature
kind of little versions of that. Then I say well, don't you get it? How are you
going to get for your daughter a mature, respectful partner if you don't raise your
son to be like that. I didn't have sons, I have two daughters, but I worry about
who they're going to be with because I've raised them to have expectations that
they should seek partners who respect them, who don't degrade them or value
them, that they can share a partnership together who support each other. At
least my oldest one who's already eighteen, she's very out there progressive and
I know her expectations of what she wants from a man are high so my concern is
what's out there? There's a lot of wonderful men out there.

B: I believe that too. My grandmother's like they're all bad. And I'm like you know
when I started meeting boyfriends, whatever, my friends, because I went to all
girls school and started going out with Columbus and I met guys, I had to explain
it to my grandmother and say you know what, they're not all bad. You got to stop
characterizing...

H: It's also her generation.

B: You have to stop characterizing men as machistas, men who don't want to do
anything in the house and who don't want to support you in whatever you do.









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H: The thing is hopefully in your generation, it's changed more. I've been very
fortunate, perhaps that's why my view is more positive. Yesterday was my
anniversary of twenty-six years, and my husband I've shared a lot and he's very
non-machista in the traditional way as you would say. But I know in some ways
he's spoiled, but I know I did it because that's how I was raised. In many ways,
I've had to learn and he tells me too to realize that he's an adult. I don't need
to worry about him, I don't need to always be on top of him. He doesn't do it to
me so I don't need to do it to him, he's not a kid. We also got married young, but
I think it's also being raised by mothers who do that always on top of you and
always esto don't forget and this and that, so we do that. After twenty-six years, I
don't have to know everything and I trust that you'll handle it well, but women
tend to do that a lot. It's like why don't you help me, because I did that with my
first daughter, not with my second. Now he combs her hair, the second one
that's now six, like today he combed her hair because I got lost. That's the thing,
I have to get lost for him to move in. If I take over everything, then of course
why should he say no, no, no let me do it. He's not going to do that. But I was
busy doing something and by the time I came upstairs the baby the baby, she's
six was already dressed and her hair was combed and I said who did your
hair? Oh dad. Oh great. But with the first one, she's eighteen now, when I
started it was like he would do something, I'm like no, no, no, that's terrible let me
redo it or why can't you do it this way. Women do that, it's like when the men try
to comb the hair or try to dress the kids we're like oh, but that doesn't match or
why did you do it that or do it a different way. Then of course, little by little men
say okay fine, you do it. It's easy to just move, step away. So a big challenge
from a family perspective, from a partnership perspective is to seek a
partnership, a mature partnership, and go into the relationship as partners from
the beginning, always as partners. So that's a challenge going back to your
original question I think because I think women today need to have careers 100
percent. Not only because they should educate themselves for their own
benefits, but from a practical point of view because of the way the statistics are.
Marriages are dissolving unfortunately, but it happens, it's happening more and
more, so from a practical point of view I think a woman needs to have a career.
She needs to be able to provide for herself and her children. There are so many
single moms. The biggest growing number of poverty is single moms. So I think
from a practical point of view the illusion that don't worry about school because
your husband's going to provide, hopefully there aren't that many women with
that illusion anymore. Beside that, women are great contributors to society, why
shouldn't women be participants in society? This is what I think, to talk about
feminismo, to go to that topic so we don't run out of time, because you were
asking me about that, about what I thought. I think that the women of the 1960s
and 1970s played an incredible role in the women's movement, but I think that
part of the problem that I see your generation having is that I think, and I'm the in
between generation. I went to a NOW organization in Gainesville and I walked
away, I said that's not for me because I was married, I wanted to have a family,









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and it felt so aggressive. But I understand that in the original stages of
something you have to have dramatic change. I do respect the women that
dedicated their lives to that drama. I was looking last night at a special on Susan
B. Anthony. She was a strong, scary women. Oh Susan B. Anthony, she must
have been this sweet women. No! What are you talking about? How do you
change something like that? When you have incredible [odds], you know the
greater the challenge the stronger the person, and so I really do think those
women at the beginning were very radical, but I think that that's only natural
because they were faced against incredible challenges. I think, though, the one
thing I disagreed with the way feminism in the original stages in this country went
is that I think that the solution that was suggested if not verbalized was that
women had to be more like men in order to succeed. I bought into that for a long
time. There's stuff that I still keep, but I what can I say about I bought into it.
Like the whole, what it's like to be a woman. I went through the whole early
1970s period where I didn't shave, my husband didn't like that very much. Didn't
shave, didn't pluck my eyebrows, didn't paint my nails, didn't put makeup,
nothing. My whole college life I was not a hippie, but almost a hippie. But it was
mixed in with the whole hippie movement of being natural. I'm still very natural.
As you see, I still don't paint my nails, I do shave. But I did buy a lot into, do I
really want to be a woman because I think some of it was like, if you have to be a
man to succeed then what does that mean and what does that say about you
being a woman? So then I began a big turn around when I got pregnant. In
1976 is when I started to change and I've developed my own way of seeing
feminism. When I got pregnant it's like I couldn't hide being a woman, I couldn't
pretend I wasn't a woman anymore, and it was the most wonderful thing that ever
happened to me. I had this huge belly, I'm a woman! There's not way of hiding
it, but I was in dresses for the first time because it was much more [comfortable].
I was always in pants. I was in dresses all the time. I usually wear pants
anyway now, but when I'm pregnant it's better to be in dresses, right. But I
thought wow, it's cool to be in dresses, it's so freeing. I was always
accompanied, I understood what it was like to be a mother in the sense of
connection to another human being. There's no connection like the connection
when you're pregnant and have a life inside of you and you're never lonely
because there's a child in there. My first pregnancy it was like heaven because I
was in college, I was a graduate student, I was very relaxed because my life
wasn't hectic yet and I was like in heaven. I never got morning sickness, I never
did anything. My second birth I was already a professional so it wasn't as easy.
I don't know if that had anything to do with it that I was more stressed out, but I
did get morning sickness and it was a more difficult pregnancy. The important
thing here is that being pregnant, being a mother awakened me to my
womanhood, and I said you know what? I do deserve equal rights, I do deserve
the same job and the same pay, but you know what? Being a woman is great
and being a woman has a lot of characteristics that men need to adopt. I don't
think we should be teaching women how to be men, I think we should be









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teaching men how to be more like women. And that's kind of my feminism which
is that be proud of being a woman, see we bought into that woman is more
emotional (as if that's inferior), women are more nurturing (as if that's inferior),
women are more communicative. We've turned all the positive things women are
more communicative, women are more social, women are more nurturing,
women are more passionate, but men turned all those things into their gossipy,
they changed all that into this male perception of them as negative. The fact is
that those are wonderful characteristics. It's men that have gotten us into wars.
Right now, who are the terrorists, who are the head of the CEO's that are now
bringing down Wall Street, I don't see a lot of women CEO, maybe that's the
problem. I'm not saying that women can't be corrupt. I'm not saying that women
are not corruptible. I'm not saying that because individually women have also
participated in negative things, but the majority of crime, the majority of war, the
majority of hostility, the majority of corruption unfortunately has been in the hands
of men. So what do we want, we want women to turn into men? I heard now
that in Italy now the mafia has been taken over by women and they're shooting
each other. I'm like oh, that's all we need now. Why don't those women
influence the men positively. That's what we want is men to be less hostile, less
competitive.

B: Then let's influence them, let's make them better men type of thing.

H: Right, and I think that we should demand equality while still embracing... I think
that the new feminism has to be it's great to be a woman. Walt Whitman said it,
it's great to be a woman and there's nothing better than the mother of all human
beings.

B: And believe it or not, my generation, I talk to my cousins, my sisters, my friends
who are my age, I ask them are you a feminist? No, I'm a mother. I want to be a
mother.

H: Because they think, they associate the word feminism which is what I wanted to
say, they associate the word feminism with the initial feminists and they think oh,
to be a feminist means to be like a man, not to enjoy being a mother. To be out
there wanting to work 24/7 in a corporation or something. I don't even know that
that's what the initial women wanted, but I know that's the perception. Like I tell
my student feminists and I say yeah, you guys think that's a truck driver, male
bashing, butch kind of woman. They go yeah, yeah. And you don't want to be
associated with that. I go well I'm a feminist. There's all of feminists, and to me
feminism means to promote being a woman and promote the values of
womanhood. Also, I have to tell you that I'm very Christian, and I believe that
Christ (this is like out there, but this is my theory) if you look at Christ, Christ
brought the characteristics that are female. The God of the Old Testament is a
very "male" God. Very judgmental, very if you don't do things you're punished.









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Christ is about forgiveness, tolerance, nurturing. Many of the women, many of
the parables have women in them, there's things in there (this is like for another
topic, but I'll just tell you) there's things in there in the Bible, in Christ's story, that
tell you that He was very enlightened in terms of women. He let women touch
him or he touched women. You might think that's not a big deal, but back in the
Jewish, he's Jewish, back in the Jewish tradition rabbis could not be touched by
women because women were unclean because of menstruation. That's just a
little example. So people today, they don't know history, so little tiny things like
that they don't understand the power of Christ allowing a woman to touch Him,
because rabbis did not allow themselves to be touched by women. So we read
that, oh yeah, the women touched Christ, we say well big deal. But there's a lot
of things in the New Testament where Christ's message, if you look at Christ's
message, more tolerance, he accepted even the sinners, forgiveness. Christ's
message to me is more woman and the believers, the first believers were always
women. The men are always the ones questioning Christ.

B: The apostles.

H: Right. So I don't know, you put it together. To me that times Him out. At this
point in my life, it's all come together: my faith, my beliefs in feminism, my beliefs
in education in order to understand. They all come together, I don't see them as
separate. We're saying to practice our faith and being Christ-like because
Catholicism is not as other religions, we're not as... Our message through be
delivered through action, not necessarily through proselytizing.

B: One of things, though, that is very difficult is seeing how though Catholicism
plays a role in our life, however when it comes to dealing with birth control pills
and abortions and things of that sort, you know?

H: I know, but remember that there is Christ and the Bible, and then there's the
human institution, Catholicism. I do believe that if you joint the institution that you
should at least make sincere attempts. It's like you join anything, you join CASA,
you're not going to be the whole time trying to undermine CASA's rules, but if
there's something that you feel uncomfortable with, you can try and change it.
But basically you join because the majority... It's like any institution. You joint
CASA, you're not going to agree with everything, but if you agree with more than
not, and you find it of worth, then you join and then you might try little by little to
change what you don't like. I believe that I was raised Catholic, it's part of my
cultural background, there's things in it that I don't necessarily 100 percent agree
with from the point of view of what's human, as opposed to questioning Christ,
beliefs and things like that. It's difficult, it's not always easy right. I agree with
you from a woman's point of view, but you know what? I rejected Catholicism for
a long time when I was in my radical 1970s, I didn't go to church for I don't know,
ten years. A lot of it was because I thought it was very patriarchal and a lot of the









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history of the church. But I went back, number one the church has evolved. It
isn't the same as it's always been and I think it's evolving in a positive way. This
thing with the priests and the abuse, it's terrible, but I think the fact that it's all
opening up and coming out I think is incredibly wonderful. It's sad, but the
opening. It has to, from the suffering, I think will become a better church, I hope
so.

B: Would you consider yourself pro-choice or pro-life?

M: It's difficult. I'm anti-abortion. I guess I have my mother's position, I know she
told you the other day. I believe in legalized abortions because I know what it's
like for women who feel that that's the only thing, they do it anyway, and they can
risk their own lives for it, but I have a very personal anti-abortion position
because not only from a religious point of view, but I don't think from a
psychological point of view the studies coming out which people have yet not
seen, but I've heard of them, that really show a lot of detrimental effects to
abortion to women which people have not been speaking about. There are a lot
of things. That's one thing the Catholic church has always a moral ground in
terms of using natural birth control. But you know what? Forget the moral
ground, from a healthy point of view, natural birth control is better
psychologically, physically for women if they can really find ways of doing it
without hormones, without all kinds of weird apparatus. Always, the birth control
has been left to women. Put some weird thing inside of you or take some pills
that are messing up your hormones or if worse comes to worst, get an abortion.
What responsibility have men had? I feel like even though legally I would leave
it, I feel we have to move away from it. Not just from a religious point of view, but
because I don't think it's good for women. I think that the long term effects of
abortion physically and emotionally for women and psychologically have not been
studied. They're only beginning to be studied and I think we're going to find that
it's not good for women. Just like they found the pills. A lot of women still just
pop the pills because it's so easy, but they don't understand the long term
consequences and how their hormones are all up and downs. Anyway, that's
another one of my things, I'm into health, I do a lot of stuff with health. I don't
know if you know I have breast cancer. You know from the article. So I've read
a lot since three years ago, even more, stuff on just on how...

B: That's one of the things that worries me the most, birth control pills and the
effects of that. Even though they say they don't, but we don't know. Birth control
has been around since what, the 1960s?

H: Right. Well in my case I used birth control for five years and I regret having done
it, but you know what? I was just taken there and I was [told] oh you're getting
married, here, birth control. I thought okay, it's easy, at twenty...









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B: You're like nothing's going to happen.

H: Right. But I regret and I've recommended my daughters not to use birth control
because not everyone's the same. I asked my doctor, do you think my use of
birth control could have led to my having breast cancer? She's like no because
usually if you're going to have a link it's going to be at the time, during the time.
But I don't know, how do I know? I still have my doubts. I just think it's messing
up your hormones, why do that? There's a reason why we're the way we are.
There's natural way of trying to alleviate things especially like hormone therapy
when you get older. Look at now all these studies saying be careful all these
women who have been on artificial estrogen and all that stuff now they're coming
with studies maybe it's not such a good idea. I'm like oh duh, all these years. So
there's natural... If you have a lot of issues with hormone replacement there are
natural things. But they always went for the chemical thing right away, and all
these men have always... I think it's the men that have been in there in the
science and the companies too...

B: That benefit.

H: Right. So in that way, I'm a real feminist too in the way that we need to have
more studies on women, we need to have less synthetic and chemical intrusion
on women and we need to have more studies on things related to them and all
the studies have been done that and then they apply the same thing. But women
aren't the same as men. For example, smoking, they say that women react
worse to smoking than men because of the way that women's lungs are. Only
now are studies coming out on that. Yet women [are] beginning to smoke all the
time. They say that a woman will have more adverse reaction to smoking much
more quickly than a man and much more negatively.

B: One last question. Politically, what would you consider yourself: liberal,
conservative, or moderate?

H: I hate labels. I think they over simplify. I would say that it all depends on what
we're talking about.

B: How about Cuban relations with the United States?

H: I'm a registered Democrat, it doesn't mean I always vote for the Democrat, but in
domestic affairs I tend to be center whether it's Republican or Democrat. I'm not
an extreme in either direction, I'm a center person so that might give you an idea
of where I am. I consider myself very progressive, but I'm also very cautious of
buying into any extremes. Like I don't like extreme right, but I don't like extreme
left because I've been burnt I guess because of the whole Cuba issue. Like I'm
very much pro-social reform, but is it really social reform? I'm very liberal in
thinking that you need to help the poor and you need to have more equity and I









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don't like the great disparity that you see in this country, but I'm also very weary
of solutions that are projected, real solutions. So that's my situation. In terms of
Cuba, I'm definitely anti-communist and anti-Castro. I don't even think that's
communism. I think that Castro really honestly falls under the typical Latin
American dictatorship, but in the late 1950s and early 1960s, communism was
the viable ideology and a lot of the intellectuals, the writers, a lot of people in
Europe and in Latin America saw communism as a viable alternative to the
problems. I think Castro is very smart, and I think he said hmm, I need an
ideology that's going to be different. He also saw Russia as a way of supporting
him and the U.S. didn't [economically], but I don't believe that because the U.S.
did that, he did that. I think he just used an ideology as a cover-up. I'm not a
historian, whoever's reading this interview. This is a very amateurish opinion, but
from my studies and my experience in seeing what I see, I really feel that it's
about power, it's Castrismo, it's about power. That ideology at that moment in
history was convenient, it got him a lot of support from Russia, it got him a lot of
support from Latin American intellectuals and Europeans.

B: But it's solid, because what has been going on through the years, is it really
communism what we have there still?

H: You mean my opinion's valid.

B: Yeah.

H: I hope so, I hope it makes sense.

B: Throughout the years, really it's changed. The government kind of has changed.
It kind of has the same ideology, but the way it's using it's ideology. Some other
people have said it has become more laid back. There's people on the streets
talking about the government, but as long as you don't talk about Fidel Castro it's
okay.

H: It isn't even a system because in Russia you even had a system so that you had
different leadership, but the system was the one that was maintained until finally
because it was a leadership you have Perestroika, an opening up of the system
with Gorbachev. Then we saw what happened, it finally evolved into what we
have today, more opening. But in Cuba, I don't that's possible because it's
Castro and he won't let go, it's Castrismo. I think that he makes all the decisions
and they're terrible because what does he know about cows, what does he know
about sugar. He thinks he's the only one that knows anything from nuclear
plants to pollution to cows to sugar production.

B: He's very mysterious. He does things and sometimes he doesn't back them up.


H: Yeah because he doesn't have to, he's Fidel.









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B: Do you think that the embargo should be lifted?

H: That's the big question. I'm in a position right now that I'm really not clear. I
have mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, I feel like there really isn't one
because the Cubans in Miami, the Cuban community in Miami spends so much
money that what kind of embargo is that? So I have mixed feelings like why not
try something new, but by the same token, I feel like you know what, it's kind of
dangerous to lift it because he's there and he's going to even profit more from
business coming in. I'm weary of American interests too just like he is. I want a
future for Cuba. I feel like the way Castro is going, it's so ironic, I get so angry
because his whole theory is get rid of imperialism, get rid of the Americans, let's
have a Cuba for Cubans. But where has he been heading? He's little by little
sold the national property, all of Europe, Canadians, Italians. If we lift the
embargo, the Americans will be in there, so he's practically going to take it back
even worse than we were in the 1950s because at least we had some legislation
that said that Cubans had to own 51 percent of everything, so we had some kind
of protection, but the way he's going, I don't even know if Cuba's for Cubans
anymore. Because he needs money so much because of his failed economy,
he's going to end up butchering it up and giving it up to the whole world so that
whenever he's not there anymore, I don't even know if Cubans are going to be
able to have Cuba for themselves. He's going to have taken it worse than [it
was]. That's why I get angry because he says one thing, but he's been doing
something totally different. It hasn't been Cuba for Cubans, it's been Cuba for
him and his goons around him. I just think it's so much about power, he's like a
power person. He's an intelligent man. Unfortunately, he's been intelligent
enough to maintain power for so long, but I think that's his ultimate goal, his
power.

B: What do you tell someone like myself who's trying to like I know I'm Cuban like
I've told you before, but I consider myself American because I was born here and
I live here and I've never gone to Cuba. The Cuba that I know is the Cuba that
I've learned through books and the Cuba that I've learned through people like
you and my grandparents, through oral history. Should I go back to see what it is
like or should I not go back?

H: That's a big question, I don't know. I have the same question because I left
when I was four. I'm not saying to go or not to go, I've had people who go and
people who don't go. I don't go mainly because I don't want to give him money.
I've had a lot of different crises in my life, like a couple of years with my health
issues and I don't want to get depressed. I know I'm going to get depressed. I
have a lot of family still there suffering. I don't know if I want to deal with that
right now. It doesn't mean I might change my mind a few years from now, but if I
were to go back, if you were to go, it isn't even going back because even me, I
don't have any memories. So you're not going to see the Cuba that your parents









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talked about, you have to go with open eyes. I would love to go back for the
nature, but I figure I'll wait a little longer, I've waited this long. To me nature is
really important, if he hasn't destroyed all of that, polluted it all because there's a
lot of problems. That's another thing I've done articles on is pollution in Cuba, it's
a real problem because they have no clue.

B: On environmental issues?

H: They dump hospital junk right into the bay, Varadero that has oil wells that they
don't maintain so it's leaking sewage right into, a lot of problems, rivers that are
drying up, a lot of environmental issues. But anyway, another topic. You can't
go to the past, you cannot go to the past. And we have to move forward.
Someone said oh because you are nostalgic. I said you know, I'm not nostalgic.
How can I be nostalgic, I don't remember anything. I'm sad for what Cuba is
today, I'm sad for its potential being lost, and I'm optimistic that one day Cuba will
reach the potential for the people there. My whole modus operandi has been to
forge an identity for myself and to make Miami home and to move forward, and
when I can, to help Cuba because I have family there. Gosh, I help other
countries, why not help my own country. But I don't think with the idea of one
day I'll go back, no. I think with the idea that I would like that country to be free
and maybe I'll go visit, but for now my reality, the present is Miami and I live very
much in the present. For the last twenty years, everything I've done has been to
make... We are here who we are and this is where our people are, here, and let's
make this the best place that we can, and create a place where my children can
grow because I can't live like what's going to happen in the future. I'm so like
we're human that we have to accept. I think because I'll just tell you this one
last anecdote because it's getting late, but a lot of it has to do when I got sick. I
love the tropics, and I used to go to the Dominican Republic a lot because I have
friends there. I went there and I'm like oh my God, this is what Cuba must be like
and I wish I could live here, and I was always whining in my head about why
can't I live in the tropics. Then I got sick and the reality that you know what, I
could die tomorrow. I mean I'm not, I have stage one breast cancer, hopefully I'll
grow until I'm really old, but when you're there it's like oh my God, what do you
mean I have breast cancer? So you're faced with today is it. So I said to myself
you know, this can't go on anymore. So I, for example, redid my whole bedroom
and this got this tropical colonial look to it, and I open my window and I say you
know what? Because my husband said once to me, this is a sea breeze
(because we live like a mile, we live in South Miami and not too far from the
coast, I don't see the coast, but maybe like a mile). So one day he said to me,
feel the breeze, it's a sea breeze. I said what do you mean it's a sea breeze?
Yeah, it's a sea breeze. I go oh wow, a sea breeze. So all of a sudden, I said
wow, I live in Miami. What I'm saying to you is that I said I decided to embrace
this wonderful city in which I live and stopped thinking that oh, if I could live in the
Dominican Republic, if I could live in Cuba, in Costa Rica, in the tropics, no. I live









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in a beautiful, subtropical place. There's ugly parts of Miami like I'm sure there's
ugly parts I saw ugly Santo Domingo, really ugly. But then there's beautiful,
there's the coast, there's the Keys, all of the groves, all colors and such a
beautiful [setting]. Mainly what I decided was to embrace the present and the
reality of the present I live in, which is something I've always worked towards.
I've always worked towards that, but I really feel like finally, emotionally I came to
say that this is where I live, this is the present and I really need to live the now.
My home is where my family is, and it sounds like a cliche, but I think it's true. A
lot of the people that I probably wouldn't have associated with if Castro hadn't
come in Cuba are here in Miami. Those are the ties that probably would have
made you back there at the Universidad de La Habana or something. So what,
so we're here. We're forging ahead. We're moving, we're educating ourselves,
we're having a life.

B: And a great life.

H: Yeah, a great life, a good life. Plus, you don't have to be in a certain place to
have a good life.

B: You make it.

H: You make your life, exactly. We could all go back to Cuba and hate it or who
knows if we had stayed and we would have hated it, typical. If Castro hadn't
come and we would have stayed there maybe we would have moved to France.
You just don't know. So you can't live in the ifs and the why's and maybe and
whatever. You just have to live, that's my theory. I'm not telling you that I'm
there yet. I do yoga and I meditate, I'm working towards that peace. I think it's a
challenge, a constant challenge to find that peace.

B: Do you consider yourself self-actualized? Happy with yourself and who you are?

H: I think so, I think at this point in my life. I think there's things in my life that I still
need to work on and probably I will until I die. I think I've made humongous
progress.

B: Thank you very much.

H: You're welcome.


[End of interview]




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