Petra and I attended the 35º Festival del Nuevo Cine Latinoamericano in La Habana Cuba to present our film and poster of La Casa Ausente.

We made new friends, watched Latin American films, and discovered many beautiful places. The trip for me had deep emotional and political overtones because Puerto Rico, my homeland, is very similar and close to Cuba and yet very different and distant from it. Cuba has a special place in the hearts and minds of Puerto Ricans like me who believe that Puerto Rico should be an independent nation and no longer a colony of the USA. When you are in Cuba, you can sense the potential and possibilities that Puerto Rico could reach if it were no longer controlled by the US Congress. Both nations have a shared history. Puerto Rican and Cuban patriots from the 19th Century fought together in Cuba’s War of Independence from Spain and in Puerto Rico’s failed revolt of Lares.

When Cubans would find out where I was from, they would invariably say:  “Nosotros somos hermanos, como dice la canción, Cuba y Puerto Rico son de un pájaro las dos alas.” (“We are brothers. As the song goes, Cuba and Puerto Rico are like two wings of a bird.”) They were referring to a poem by Puerto Rican poet and revolutionary of Cuban and Puerto Rican independence from Spain, Lola Rodríguez de Tió, that inspired Cuban singer Pablo Milanés to compose and sing the internationally famous and beautiful song Son de Cuba a Puerto Rico. You can hear the song by clicking on the link at the end of this post.

It was this dichotomy that underscored my migratory reality which vacillates between feeling rooted, with a sense of belonging, and sensing distance and disconnection, even in a place as close to me as Cuba. Add to this mixture, 17 years of living in Miami and hearing the truths, half-truths and outright lies about Cuba, and you end up with a multi-faceted experience that defies simple explanations and conclusions. Plus, this was my second visit to Cuba, 30 years after my first one.

All in all, it was a joyful wonderful multifarious experience, yet full of contradictions. I will share many of these experiences we had, in a series of posts which I title Sketches of Cuba, including, of course, our reason for the visit: the film festival.

For now I will leave you with a moment-video that reflects the peace and quietness you can experience in Cuba. This one was recorded at the beach on Cayo Jutías, in the northern coast of Pinar del Río province.

Here is the link to the song:  Son de Cuba a Puerto Rico

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