Heading back to Havana (Blog Entry 1)

Posted at 3:25 PM, Mar 19, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-20 10:57:13-04

Just months after my first international assignment in the world of broadcast news, WPTV is sending me back to Cuba!

On Sunday, I will be traveling to Havana with the legend himself, our prime-time WPTV anchor and award-winning journalist Michael Williams, and one of the most talented and hardworking photographers I know, Ian Dorety.

We will be covering a historical event on the island. President Barack Obama will be arriving to Havana on Sunday. This is first time a U.S. President visits Cuba in 90 years. Not only will President Obama meet with Cuban President Raul Castro, he will come face to face with the reality of what Cuba is today. President Obama will get to meet with the Cuban people. On Cuban soil, he will address the entire country in a broadcasted speech. Cubans will see our President on their television, with no interference from their own government. That is something my grandparents never thought they’d ever see. Sadly, a free Cuba is something that is still not a reality. But, could this be a start?

I still think about my trip to the island last September when our WPTV team covered Pope Francis’ visit during his mission of mercy. It was such an incredible experience. Not only did I get to see the Pope, see the Pope in Cuba, but I was in Cuba for the first time in my life and to top it all off, I met family members I’ve talked to for years and never have been able to hug. Meeting my cousins in Cuba was such an emotional experience. I wish my maternal grandparents were still alive today to have seen that reunion. It was like piecing a part of yourself back together. And now I get to feel it all over again.

Our WPTV team will bring you the stories you won’t see in the national media. We will show you the impact a trip like this will have and why Americans should care about what’s happening in Cuba. The President will not only meet with Cuban entrepreneurs, he’s also meeting with American business leaders who will also be taking this trip. This is the beginning of ideas for trade, business, and a new economic opportunity for the U.S. and Cuba. We will look at the pros and cons. We will take a look at the possibilities or consequences.

And then another surprise! It’s like the return of the Christmas all over again. (Christmas celebrations were banned for almost 30 years until Pope John Paul II’s visit in 1998 when Fidel Castro allowed the country to celebrate in honor of the Pope’s visit) On Friday March 25, the Rolling Stones will have a free concert at La Ciudad Deportiva de La Habana. This is truly a once in a lifetime event. It will be the first open air concert in Cuba by a British Rock Band, and come on, not just any band, it’s the Rolling Stones!

I am excited to tell the stories of those on the island. I am excited to hear their thoughts and share them with you. As you can imagine, wireless internet is still very limited in Cuba, but I’d like to solicit questions from you. What do you want to know? If you could ask Cuban nationals still living on the island anything, what would you ask? Our South Florida community will likely be the most immediately impacted by these relations. Already, we’re seeing more people travel to Cuba, there are plans to open 110 direct flights to the island every day, plans for Cuba to become a vacation cruise destination, plans to trade crops, there are A LOT of plans floating around.

I will be blogging every day on the island and sharing my experiences. I am trying to see my family again. I hope you will enjoy seeing and reading our stories.

Cuba always had a special place in my heart growing up and now I know why. Even though I am proud to have been born in this amazing country and I am an American, you can’t ignore your culture, your roots. When I’m there it feels like a second home and home is where the heart is.

Cubita, te veo pronto!  (Cuba, I will see you soon.)