Union City’s Cuban flair is expressed in the town’s food, culture, and people. It was all on display on Wednesday, May 20, Cuban Independence Day, at International Park at Palisade Avenue and 38th Street.
The Cuban flag was raised in the annual ceremony. The flag was used in the liberation movement to seek independence from Spain. It was raised for a short time in 1850, and was given official status as the national flag in 1902. Cuba gained independence in 1868.
The country has been governed by members of the Communist party since 1965 and many have been living under the tight fist of the government.
Commissioner Tilo Rivas gave a speech, along with other speakers.
“Freedom is approaching,” Rivas said. “We cannot lose hope.”
“Freedom is approaching. We cannot lose hope.” – Tilo Rivas
The U.S. tightened an embargo on Cuba in 1993, but last year, Pres. Barack Obama lifted the travel ban. Since then, Cuba has seen its tourism soar. Approximately 100,000 Americans visited Cuba last year, and that number is expected to double this year.
Assistant Principal at Union City High School Carmen Machado asked her mother to come up to stand with her as she spoke.
“Some are happy; some are not so happy with what is going on,” she said. “A lot of change is happening for the better. The internet is also such a great outlet for the Cuban people.”
Machado came to the United States from Cuba at age 4, and has not been back since.