What Do I Want for My People? I Want Them to Be Free!
In 1994, my family and I escaped the communist regime in Cuba. It wasn’t your typical escape plan. My father and mother had been planning this for four years and finally, it was a moment. El Maleconaso also had just occurred and Castro gave a somewhat similar speech when he opened up the borders in the ’80s during El Mariel.
It was sixteen of us in a sixteen-foot boat very small and very old. The last image I remember was a pitch-black image with some family and people waving our goodbyes. As our family looked at the Island of Cuba, we didn’t know what to expect in those waters. We just knew that we were looking for one thing. That is FREEDOM.
My mother’s eyes watered up as the island got smaller. A place that saw her coming to life, her friends, her family, her entire life gone just like that. It was almost unbelievable to some people when I told them what we had been through. But our story was more fortunate than less fortunate. There are others that lost their lives and lost their loved ones. Not to mention experience the most traumatic things such as storms, sharks, dehydration, starvation amongst many other traumas. For us, we traveled three days, slow and steady passing through tropical storms which caused some damage to our boat. We couldn’t move at all we had to just sit still and if we had to pee it would have to be in the water. If we needed to sleep it would have to be sitting up. We saw boats passing us that were cargo ships, we yelled and screamed but nobody heard us. The boat broke one day luckily my father was a mechanic and he created some kind of trick that would hydrate the engine’s boat. My cousins had to fill up cups of water to it back and forth. It was exhausting for them. My mother fainted in the middle of all of this, and I knew something was not right.
Finally, after three days of suffering, we see a small little miracle. We see dolphins pop up. It was a family of them just looking up at us. It was like they were telling us that we were close. They guided us to the rest of the journey, and we saw lights from afar. We didn’t know where we were, but we were in Key West Florida 90 miles we had traveled. We stepped foot in the land all of us immediately. Wet foot dry foot law was in place during that time. We had made it to freedom. Emotions ran through all of us. Sunburnt and skin rashes from all of our faces. The smell of our skin was the story of our pain. We left it all behind.
I think what is happening in Cuba today is what could’ve happened to any of us that would’ve been left behind. We would’ve been tired one way or another of the regime and the romancing of it. It’s not true what they say out here. Cuba doesn’t have the best medicine or the best schools. In fact, maybe for the tourist but not for the people. The people are the slaves to the regime and the regime is the false propaganda that the world sees. I think what occurred was a heavy wave of heroism through the entire island and us as the blood of our Cuban ancestors run through our blood is our duty to amplify the voices of all of those heroes on that island and use it, to tell the truth. I realize a lot of people don’t really know the situation because everything thinks Cuba is so amazing with all of their free medication and whatnot. It might be amazing for the regime but the other eleven million it’s pure slavery.
I came here to LA to tell that story, in the form of literature, filmmaking, and acting. In many ways, I have already had but now I want to do it now more than ever. As an actress, I want to amplify the reality of what is happening. As a writer, I want to tell my family’s legacy to Freedom. That’s what I want for my people. I want them to be free. I’m Leslie Lluvet a Television, Voice Over, and Film Actress, born in Havana Cuba and raised in Miami and this is my story.