Over the last 24 hours there have been many glasses raised and backs patted over the long awaited news of a prisoner exchange, reestablishment of diplomatic relations and overall revamping of U.S. policy toward Cuba. While the key administration and congressional staff, lobbyists, advocacy groups, travel agencies, blockade-runners, and pro-engagement Cuban-Americans deserve to take a deep bow, a deep breath and a reflective break before jumping back into the ring to help design the new landscape, we must remember to take a moment to recognize the real heroes in this unfinished story: ordinary Cubans living on the island.
Those teachers, doctors, secretaries, bartenders, scientists, artists, mothers, soldiers, uncles, students and so on, who have had the courage and strength to live their lives under the cruelty of U.S. policy without surrendering their principles, abandoning their dreams, or betraying the revolution. Those Cubans who have survived periods of great suffering caused and/or exacerbated by the U.S. policy of starving them into submission and who have endured sometimes harsh reactive measures by their government to this situation.
They are the foot soldiers and true victors of this chapter in the battle. May we all acknowledge their heroism and restate our vows of solidarity and commitment to not give up until the embargo is in the waste bin of history.
Dawn Gable is a Washington, DC based writer.