The Hispanic Project started the Louisiana Cuban Club in response to the United States easing restrictions with Cuba. The goal is to educate people about Cuban relations, reconnect families, and invite Americans to visit Cuba.
Fernando Perez-Viart says “bring people to people in Cuba they’ll know how the people are living in Cuba and they can bring experience and get a feel from Cuba and why they come back to the united estates the can share with the rest of the people…baby steps but open the door for more citizens visiting Cuba Cuba is a beautiful country.”
Fernando Perez-Viart, the Hispanic Project Director, won a visa lottery to travel to the U.S. in 2002.
His wife and daughter came to America while he was detained by the Cuban government for 6 years.
Perez-Viart knows relations with Cuba won’t be fully restored at once but hopes connecting Cubans and Americans will help.
“nobody is thinking you can go to Cuba and change the government, it’s not true but we can go to Cuba offer something to the families over there and they start to change their mind.”
Luly Pulles, a member of the Cuban club is a first generation American born to Cuban parents in New Iberia.
“I consider myself a Cajun Cuban American.””
Although her father sought political asylum when leaving Cuba, all of their immediate family stayed together.
“even though my parents themselves went through all of this it’s hard for me to comprehend…I believe there is not a single part of live that is heavily impacted when faith is taken away from a nation when dreams and hope are taken away from a people and that’s what happened to Cubans and to many others who suffered the same fate under communism.”
Jose Sanchez Jr. came to the U.S. in the mid-seventies and now owns Pepin’s store. A recent trip to Cuba motivated him to join the Louisiana Cuban club.
“the hardships that the Cuban people had to endure to live to exist they’re in survival mode from the moment they wake up to the moment they go to bed at night…hopefully this is a ray of light all we are wanting is a ray of light.”