Grace Piney

* 1973  

  • "The immensely long arm of the Castro’s regime reaches all the Cubans, even when they live outside Cuba. There are many testimonies about this. In my specific case, I left with the awareness that I was leaving with a commitment. I didn’t leave to live better outside Cuba, I left to work for Cuba. And as soon as I began to do that work, I began to meet the difficulties. The problems began at the moment of the first congress about Cuba that I organized [International Congress on Creation and Exile with Cuba in the Distance], that was at the University of Cádiz. The university accepted to grant academic credits to the students who would participate at the congress. And the university also granted us a budget and the spaces, thus the congress would take place in the classrooms of the University of Cádiz. Three days before the congress, with many participants flying or already being in Cádiz, we were told that we could not realize the congress. They told us that we could not use the image of the University and that the credits for the students were not going to be granted, after being approved and signed in a document. When we searched for the reason, we recognized that they had received a call from Havana, and the Communists of the University of Cádiz refused to let the congress take place there. We faced threats of demonstrations in the streets, bomb threats, there were being written banners against us, we were even accused in the media that we were organizing a terrorist congress... It was an academic congress, a congress involving professors of various universities around the world."

  • “For me, it is an absolutely delusional experience to imagine why Communism could be seductive to people, because I really can’t imagine how Communism can be seductive to someone. I have to make a great intellectual effort to imagine that. I can’t put myself in the case of imagining that Communism can be seductive. But analyzing the behavior of the people for whom Communism actually is seductive, I think it sells them ideals – this is what they accept, or sells them an ideal of equality, of opportunities, which is actually a lie. It doesn’t matter what it gives you... But if it takes away your freedom, it is not giving you anything."

  • “When I was five years old, even before the school experience with the history of the Spaniards [when a teacher accused her that the Spaniards were murderers during the colonial era], around 1978, my family recalls that I stood in front of my father and told him to send me out of Cuba, or alone or accompanied, because there was no freedom in Cuba, and I needed freedom. I have a son, and when he was five, I listened to the things he was saying, and I thought a lot about how monstrous has to be a child's mentality that when five years old, this child can be aware that there is no freedom, that he or she needs freedom and that it is possible to find it. I remember spending many sleepless nights at that age, thinking the whole night about what I could do so that there would be freedom in Cuba.”

  • “This is the question for one billion, for this one you should actually pay me... The truth is that I don’t know how the future of Cuba will be. I would like it to be a future of freedom, I would like Cubans to live in peace, to rebuild the nation. But it will really need a lot of effort in Cuba. In Cuba, a reconstruction has to be done at all levels. The outer level – thus what people see when they come to Cuba, is the destruction of Havana. But that's not all. That's probably the easiest thing – the buildings, those are probably the easiest to rebuild. However, also at this moment it is complicated. The Cubans who are going to live the future, right now might be in the first phase of their youth. They were born in a totalitarian context, they were born listening to a speech of rancor, listening to a wrong speech. And hopefully they will make the process towards a mentality that will allow them to live in a free Cuba, in a democratic Cuba, where the rights and freedoms of the people are respected. And I would like to believe that they will be able to do it by themselves. But it is really necessary to teach them how. That is why all the work which is being done for Cuba is necessary.”

  • “Many people in Cuba had to leave without their children, or their children left and they had to stay, as was the case of my parents. When I was preparing the procedures to leave Cuba, I was denied my academic information at the university, they threatened me saying that they would let me out but they would not let my son to leave with me, while my son was one year old... My house was checked, they locked me in a dark room with burgundy curtains, and a clerk of the Ministry of Interior told me that at the very best, they would let me out of Cuba, but that my son was a son of The Revolution and for that same reason they refused to give me my academic information. Those were very tense months, and when I finally arrived in Spain with my son, I weighed 80 pounds [36 kg], thus I was in a very delicate state. I had not slept for almost a year, because they threatened to take my son away from me, and they had already entered into my house, leaving it upside down. I was afraid they would come in and take the baby. So, I went to bed, put fresh water compresses on my eyes, and reached a point of semi-vigilance, a point when I was not asleep, but I was relaxed enough to rest at least a little. It could not have been a complete break. I listened to all the noises, I listened to the movements, and I was always aware that the baby was next to my bed.”

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“The immensely long arm of the Castro’s regime reaches even the Cubans who live far from Cuba”

Grace Piney during the recording in Miami, 2017
Grace Piney during the recording in Miami, 2017
photo: archivo de Post Bellum

Grace Piney was born in 1973 in Cuba into a Spanish family. She recalls that already at the age of five, she had a clear idea that Cuba lacked democracy, which marked her whole vital path. Consequently, at 9 years of age, she refused “to be like Che [Guevara]” in a pioneering greeting, which caused many problems in her primary school, and accompanied her practically until her departure to the emigration in Spain. In the exile, she first worked as organizer of the International Congress on Creation and Exile with Cuba in the Distance, which took place between the years 2000 and 2008, but due to constant threats by the Castro’s regime in Cuba, she left this job to become a project manager within the Hispanic-Cuban Foundation. In 2011, she moved to Miami, United States, where she works as editor of Cuban news in the newspaper New Herald, and so she keeps up to date with the reality of her native island.