Céline Rodriguez Cairo

Céline Rodriguez Cairo

Before leaving Cuba, my dream was a better life...accepted into society, and have my rights,” says Céline Rodriguez Cairo (38), a transgender Cuban refugee currently living in Paris. She says that in Cuba she was fined, arrested and beaten because of her gender identity, that “people yelled at me, threw stones at me.” And that “every day I felt more that my life had no future.” In 2018 she flew to Paris. “It was like being born again,” she says of the moment she learned her asylum application had been approved. “I felt that I could take root here in France, and that… they were going to accept me.” Despite initial optimism, she says discrimination in the job market affected her mental health, and she began suffering from agoraphobic spells. Eventually, however, she found a job cleaning houses, and is now involved in several activist organizations. “My life will continue with my fight against discrimination,” she says. “I'm strong because, I've been through a lot of things.”

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Full interview

(French Interviewer)
Spanish interpreter

 

(It’s okay, it’s recording. Hi Celine, hello! Can you introduce yourself? )
Can you introduce yourself, please?
Yes, of course! uh, my name is Celine. Uh, I’m Cuban. I was born on February 10, 1982. I am 38 years old and was born in San, in, I come from the center of Cuba, in, from a city called Santa Clara. I was born outside Santa Clara, uh, in a, in the countryside, a ci…, a small village called Quemado de Güines and by, and, after…, in a…, after a year, uh, we returned, uh, we went from, we left that place, we went to, to the capital village of the province, uh, I’ve lived in Santa Clara since I was one year old. 

(And currently, you are in France? )
Today, I am in France.

(Okay. And what do you do with your time?)
How do you organize your day?
(In general.)
Ah, in general, aha! Right now I organize, uh, I’m incorporated into a labor association. Uh, my job is, uhh, office cleaning and I come, uhh, my day, my day is organized based on the working hours I have. 

(Okay. And, what about outside of work? Outside the… )
When, when, when he asks “how do you organize your day?”, it’s, for example, I do a little… I go to work, I do sports, uh, I go, uh, I write a book. Do you understand? Everything in general of your, of your, how you live your, your, your day, your day.
Got it! I work, uh, due to, due to the due to the, because of, uh, I am a house worker, I work in houses, work and house. With the problem of COVID, I say no, and I go from work to my house. 

 

(And, where do you live? )

I live, I li…, uh, I live in a shelter, uhh, here at the 5th arrondissement, uhh, I’ve lived here for a year and a half. 

(Okay. And, are you happy? )
Yeah, uh, I’m very happy. I’m very happy here because the people are very nice. There are as always some who don’t, don’t accept, uh, the… they are, ah, be…, because, be…, because we live, uh, in a shelter, in mixed places and so there are always some differences. Because there is a difference in culture, a difference in religion and many other things. And they come from, uh, different descendants and they don’t know much from, from the world, and they don’t have much, much, uh, knowledge of many things, uh, uh, in the world. 

And, and, tell him also about the working conditions, living conditions, that is, what you… You already talked about people, but he asks how do you live here, for example, if you, if they treat you well if there is very good food, how does this place work.
No, no, no, uh, here, uh, the people who wor..eh.. we’ve had several in a year and a half that I’ve been here, a lot of instability of the social worker. Eh, there have been many who have done a good job, many who have done a bad job, many who have not been interested at all in one’s problems, eh, others have been interested in one’s problems and…, and so on. There is a gentleman who is, he is like the one, the one in charge here, who is in charge of helping the people who live here. Very helpful, I love him very much. A man who is very committed to his work.

(Okay, right. And so uh, besides work, when you… I don’t know on weekends, or other, other times, what do you do? Do you have any hobbies?)
What do I do on weekends, when I don’t have to work?

In your spare time. Your hobby.
Aha, aha.

(Do you have any passions? Any hobbies? There you go. )
Ehhh… It’s, uh, it’s currently a little complicated, because… as a result of COVID many things that we did before, for example, meeting with friends, can no longer be done. Uhh, but normally as usual, every fortnight or so we would meet, go out together, to bars, nightclubs. Ehm, and so, we fe…, we felt good and we, and we lived. 

But for example, now that COVID exists, the situation is like that. But since 2018, for example?
(I think it’s okay… it’s okay, it’s okay. With Cubans? )
Uhh? 

(You go out with Cubans?? )
Oh yes! 

(No, it’s okay )
Oh, oh good because now my… hehehe! 

(It’s okay, we’ll hear, don’t worry, the microphone works. No, I meant when, when you say uh…)
Aha!

(With Cubans? )
Oh, my yes, yes, yes!

For example, he talks about…
Yeah, yeah, my friends are Cuban. My friends are Cuban because it is, it is, it’s very difficult to do a lo… do a cycle of mixed friendships in … in eh… here in France and, and mo… and more so because of the… to my position, uh, social as trans, it’s very difficult! I mean, uh, I normally have to, uh, link with people of the same kind… 

Why do you think there’s no tolerance?
Ah, ah, because I’m going to feel better, because in, in other groups it’s, it’s not going to be the same story. 

But you haven’t found any tran… trans groups other than Cubans?
No, no, no, no, no, no, no…ah then. No, but he is, uh, I mean in that part, that already the people I know are from my gender or those of my friends, and they’re all pro… that’s exactly why they’re in. They are the same gender as mine. And so I feel good with them, because it’s, it’s my circle, my social circle. Ujum. 

(Okay. And so I wanted to know now if we can go back because you… you told us a little bit about your origins in Cuba. So can you tell us why you had to leave your country?)
Did you understand everything?
Yeah, he wants to tell me why… 

He wants to go back, to his… At your beginnings, why did you leave your country?
Ehh, as I said, in Cuba there is a, ehh, gay, trans, ehh, transvestite people however LGBTI, aha. There is, there is a lot of discrimination since such people society has not yet accepted these people. It’s like everything, there are approaches it de… it depends on the, on the social position of the person, that they have. If the person is a doctor and is gay, people are not interested because they have a good social position. But if the person is a… a simple cleaner, because they are gay it’s, it’s, it’s, to them like they are not worth a thing. They don’t have, they don’t have, they… do not have a place within society. Eh, there, our gay world.. it has …, it has been strengthened thr… through the years, the years; okay. We used to be very discriminated against and even punished with prison for being gay. Many, I met a lot of people in my… 

Were there camps? Were there camps?
In, in my, in my city, once they suffered prison. They suffered prison because they were persecuted, uh, they had, there was a lot of persecution, they even were, they were persecuted… for painting their lips, for painting their eyebrows, for having long hair and, ehh, for dyeing their hair. Uh, and then, uh, for them, people eh, uh, it’s… For them, that social media was, it was… depravable, inconceivable of society, ehm, because it was inconceivable that two people of sex could have relationships, sentimental, sexual relationships. For them… the Cuban revolution had no place for them in society.

(And, how did you feel about this discrimination? )
How did you react to, to that discrimination? That… on a personal level.
I was born, I was born in ’92. Ehh, after the years of repression, the repression, because I tell you, eh, the society of us, gay and LGBT has strengthened. Already when I was born It was a little strengthened, a little strengthened, and gays eh, they had, they knew, there were, they had a little, a little more freedom. A little more freedom, in the sense that they were starting to, uh, they started to, uh, i, uh… in my city there is a nightclub called El Mejunje, which is a, was a, a cultural centre where it was a varied cultural centre, where there were varieties, they gave varieties eh, of, of activities in the week for people like rockers, troubadours, ehh, university students. And on weekends there were activities for gay people. And, and then that was camouflagging, uh, and then that’s where gay people started and, and they created their cycle, and that was the first gay club we had there in, in Santa Clara, it’s called El Mejunje, and then there we… we met. Uh, now, uh, eh, that was my, my beginning, my beginning was there. There I was getting to know the world, I was understanding how it was like. Uh, I was watching, uh, the police repressions that were, they came in, went into the, on the clubs, eh, they caught, uh, abused gay people, uh, in a sense that, they said, “Hey, the party’s over, go away because this is not allowed anymore!” And, and they closed the, they closed the the… the place. There was even discrimination even for… for… for…ho do I to say it? Even monetary because, the, the, the center cost 2 Cuban pesos during the week and on weekends for gays it cost 5. Uh, and then… 

I’m sure there were bribes, too.
Aha, aha. And then like that. Let’s see. Now, uh, when they kicked us out of the center, that, uh, we were all going to, to the park. A park that was called the pa… in the center of Santa Clara called Parque Vidal and there we ended the night together and that. But there the police when they saw people, trans, gays, they repressed us, they fined us, eh, they beat us, they put us into, in a, in a patrol that was a, it was a truck that when that, uh, we called them trucks, eh, from the pound, because they were, it was like for, it was like for animals and us, and we… And they had us there… 

Like beasts, right?
They would spray, they would spray, and the police would come and say, “You can’t be here, go to your homes!” Hey, when you, uh, you… you demanded your rights, they would beat you, and put you in and take you to prison, and and, and, and they would create lawsuits, invented lawsuits. Uh, and it was very difficult, very difficult. I was, uh, gay life in Cuba was very difficult, very difficult. Ehh, in the mid-90s, in the mid-90s, Cuban tourism began to enter, tourism that is there, foreign tourism to Cuba and people were increasing… the visibility of Cubans was increasing with… outside because we lived… We Cubans lived in a, in an urn where everything was good in Cuba and the outside was, it was the bad thing. And then that’s what they taught us. In the mid-90s they began to introduce tourism in Cuba and that gave Cubans another visibility because cult… cultural exchanges and knowledge began to exist. And we started to, to think differently and there began to be other changes. Eh, prostitution started, because there was a lot of social inequality and a lot of economic difference in the country because we had lived a special period and there was a lot of need. The, eh, see people, eh, I met, for example, I met foreign people, I had foreign friends, I had foreign friends, ehh, who went to visit me to my house. When they went to visit me at my house, the police, the police, the police were informed that I was connecting with tourists and that was not possible, that I had a friend who was and that was not possible. Uh, the police went to my house, they arrested me, they took me to the, to the unit. And, there in Cuba, he is called the head of sectors. The head of sectors is the, is the, is the chief who is in charge of, of, the area where the person lives. He called me to a meeting, gave me a warning statement, that I could not have a foreign friend, that it was not allowed, because that is illegal, for them it was illegal. And, if you, and then I gave you a warning record, and if you, and if they saw you again with your foreign friend, they put you in prison and you were going to prison for having a foreign friend. Eh, then I kept… Uhh, holding up my friendship with my foreign friends, because that, that was something inconceivable that could not be forbidden. How could they… how could they forbid a relationship of a friendship of, someone foreigner with, with a Cuban friend? No, no, that’s impossible, that, no, it can’t be. Uh, I continued my relationship with my foreign friend and… And, and then in the course of time I was sanctioned. I was sentenced for three years deprivation of liberty, ehh, from house to work, for having a relationship with a foreign friend of mine. I couldn’t see him anymore. Uh, my mom suffered a lot because even the neighbors were amazed because how, how, like this boy who’s never had san… that he is a boy who, who has always been respectful, who has been loved by friends, how is it, that he has never had one, a criminal record, how is it possible that this boy has, for having a foreign friendship, they wanted to put him in prison? It’s impossible, they were amazed. Since that, uh, since then I was very disappointed about, of my situation in Cuba, aha. My, my friendship was, was gay, it was gay, even more so, see? But nonetheless, my friendship for being gay foreigner had more priorities than me for being a Cuban gay. They gave the priorities to gay foreigners because he was the one who brought the currency, the dollars to supply the country’s economy. I mean, uh, as a gay, as a gay, uh, Cuban, from my country, we didn’t have the rights a, a gay foreigner who was going to come to Cuba, was going to have the privileges that I wasn’t going to have as a Cuban. Uh, and then so. Mmm, then, uh, the neighbors… Well, amazed at that, and that, well, uh, and this one, they were very disappointed as well as me, because I never, never w… eh, they loved me, the neighbors loved me. I had many friends despite being gay, had many friends, me, I was very accepted in society. That was my first disappointment and the, and the biggest disappointment I suffered in, in, in my country. That was one of the biggest disappointments I suffered in my country, my family, because my family suffered a lot, suffered a lot and it hurt a lot, you see? And I couldn’t understand why there’s no freedom or laws there. They give you a trial without proof, no cause, nothing, simply for having a relationship, ehh, with a foreign friend, a warning without proof and nothing. You have no right to, to claim, you have no right to anything and they judge you and, and they give you the penalty. It’s all, like that. That was my first disappointment as a gay Cuban. Eh, after the three years I started working, working on, as a nurse assista… of, no, of… 

After three years?
Of, the three years of, ehh, the sanction, the sanction. I started working, mmm, as a messenger in health, health messenger. There in the he… in the he…, there in Cuban health, there is, there is, there is a large, large number of gay health workers: nurses, doctors, ehh…

A society?
Multiple, multiple, multiple, the gay scene is very much alive there. Mostly it’s, it’s very, very, very, uh, multiple, multiple. And then there I met several friends, uh, then I did the training. And, and there, uh,the training, and, uh, was as a nurse assistant. There I started working in a children’s hospital. The name is Arnaldo William Castro, back in my province, Santa Clara. Ehh, for, ah, for the ones who does not yet know Santa Clara, Santa Clara is called in Cuba the… is, it’s the City of Che, where is the historical movement of Che Guevara, that is my city. Uh, there, uh, I, I started to, uh, meet multiple friends, make relationships. Uh, I was as always very loved by society, uh, my mentality was opening up, looking at it another way the, the perspective of, the gay world. I was having sex, I was living in hard environments, I was thinking about having, changing my way of thinking, and there I started to start my, uh, to change my way of thinking. I started to dress like a woman, uh, I got fined a lot of times. I had a lot of fines, a lot of fines I had, a lot of fines for dressing up as a woman. The police took you, they saw you in the park, they’d walk you out and put you in, tell you it was a public scandal to dress up as a woman. 

(And just, sorry because this is important… And you, how did you feel when this, this happened to you? Angry? Sad? What was the…? Humi… humiliated?)
Well, I feel… 

No, at that moment, when those things happened to you.
Ah, but at the moment, at the moment, how did I feel? 

When all that stuff happened to you in the family, all your mom’s sadness, what you saw about the police, what happened in, in El Mejunje, everything, how did you feel? How is your…, hatred, what you felt.
At that time, in that process, discrimination, I felt, I felt very discriminated against. Very discriminated because no, I didn’t have a place in society for Cuban socialism and I felt like that, umjú, and that’s it. 

Nothing else?
(Sorry, you can continue.)
Yeah, yeah, yeah. No, no, I felt, I felt, I felt it already. No, more than anything, discriminated against. It’s all… is what, what I felt was discrimination, ok?, it was, is what I was, that I was discriminated against in society, in Cuban socialist society, society… Cuban socialist, I was discriminated against in social, social society. There were straight friends who didn’t, who were not interested in prejudices and accepted you as you were. Shall I continue? 

(Yes, thank you. )
No, no, I don’t… aha can you, uh, stop…

(That’s great.)
Uhh, aha for me to… Uh, then… 

Celia sometimes needs you not to let her continue, to take her to what you want to go…
Yeah, exactly, to don’t lose the thread. Because if you ask me a question… what I think about the… aha… 

(No, no, no, but it is very good it is very good, it is just that really on the… the feelings, it is important. )
Sure, of course. 

(If you can tell every time how you feel…)
He says that your feelings are important, that you can…
Yeah, yeah, yeah.

And he’s not going to interrupt you, but when he needs it, he will do it.
Sure, exactly. So, there I started to start… looking at me differently, that I already wanted to dress as a woman. I started to dress as a woman, uh, I suffered a lot, had, I had to do it hidden in my house when I… when the whole neighborhood fell asleep so I could get out. Because when I came out people yelled at me, threw stones at me, assaulted me, laughed… 

(These are acts of repudiation.)
They laughed at me and it was very difficult. And I wanted to do it, I wanted to do it, and it was very difficult and I had to wait for everybody to come out for me to get dressed and I… and then get out. And then, then my life turned into nightlife, nightlife, it turned because by day it was impossible for me to go out like this. So to feel good about me, I wanted to feel good, so to… it had to be in, in the nightlife where I had the place that I could go out when there was nobody, for me to feel good. And arrive at the nightclub over there, El Mejunje, and then there I feel with my friends and feel in it, in my social environment and feel like I wanted. Ujum. Um, then, uh, at my job, uh, I was five years. I loved a lot, very, very much working with, with the, with the, with the children. Uh, I really love that job. I worked in several, several, ehh, wards, ehh, respiratory, hematology, I met a lot of people, they loved me very much. I was very well known back in, at the hospital and they loved me very much. I was a nurse assistant. People, even people thought I was a nurse because I was doing my job very well and I loved it. Ehhm, in 2000… after, uh, eh, when Cuba started with the re… relations with, with Venezuela, eh, began international missions, international missions and, uh, my head nurse is given a, an assignment of a mission and she goes for a mission. So for her, she was repla… replaced by… by another boss, homophobic boss, and… I started to have problems at work with him. He used to change my wards, working position, he wanted to change my work hours, to… b… motivate me to, to, to… 

To leave.
A, no, to, no, no, uh, to, to feel, to feel uncomfortable, uh, uh, uncomfortable in the place for me to give up my, my, my profession and leave. Eh, I really couldn’t do it anymore and I had to. I had to quit after five years working there I quit my job, I quit my job. Hemh, and , and yes. And I gave myself… and I gave myself… I was, I was like a year, a year in the, at home. At home, my, ehhh, my life was… was accepted. My mom always accepted me. My mom always accepted me, what to tell you. But I lived with my mom’s husbands who weren’t very good to me. They weren’t very good to me and I had very bad times that I will never, never forget. Because I felt very, very, very, very abandoned I felt at those times. Umju. I had a grandmother, a very dear grandmother who has passed away, that I love very much, and wherever she is I’m always going to love her. I’m always going to love her because that was always my blessing, umju. She was always the one who helped me, the one who supported me in everything and, and it was, and it was my mom, for me she was my mom. Eh, then I started to create my life. Ehh, the gays started to create their lives and, and then I started, going, uhm, I went to the capital of the, of the province. Uhh, to Havana, I wanted to go there and experience a new life. And there I went and, and I got to know the real system, the social system that exists in Cuba. Uhh, when I got there, um, there was a gay world, the gay world, uh, that I never expected a gay world because I didn’t know. A gay world is more diverse, wider, where… It was, uh, it was, v… It was very happy, I was very happy. But, uh, it was a gay world that was pluri…pluricellular, that there was prostitution, there was… everything, good relations, good friendships there were. And that was the life that was lived there. There were people who even got high. Uhmm, and it was created a… It was the daily show business, and but it was a show that one felt good in because it was, it was the one, where u… where I felt was my place. I was there like, like, two years in Havana. I got fined in Havana. They’ll deport me from my co… from my, from my capital, I was deported many times with fines, fines. Fines of, 500 Cuban pesos, of… fines, uh, unjustifiable fines. That because of the fact that I was Cuban and being in the capital of my province they, they deported you, they told you that you were illegal in your capital, of your country. And they deported you to your country, they put you three days into the hole put you three days in the dungeon, and they put you in with prisoners, with prisoners, who didn’t…  with lawsuits. With, that, they had nothing to do with, they weren’t interested if you had problems or anything, they locked you with prisoners, real criminals. They weren’t interested in the background you had, they put everyone in there together. I’ll… And, and, and, and, and, and then they put you three days into the dungeon. They had you there without bathing, nothing, and then they… they deported you to your province because they said that you were illegal in your… in the capital of your province, you were illegal. So they fined you two, three, four fines, and so consecutively I later, like after a month, I would go back, go back to, go back to Havana and return like this, like that, like that. And then that’s how I got to know, uh, and seeing more the the world, the gay world and I went heavily into the gay world there in the, in Havana it was, it was very strong. It was very strong, the police imposed, a lo… a lot of trouble, uh, the cops came and said, “You can’t be here and go, go!” And they dumped you like you, like we were animals. They didn’t discriminate, they didn’t felt… you, and, and, and, and if you didn’t go and, if you didn’t go, they’d get you in, they’d take you and put you into the truck, they’d take you for the unit and put you a fine and when you got there, they’d put you a fine and gave you warning letters. And when the warning letter they’d charged you for what wasn’t, they told you you were besieging tourism because it’s a punishable cause in Cuba to besiege tourism. And, and you were sitting, it turns out you were sitting very quietly with my friends and they’d say to you, for example, “Come on look what…!” “No, no, I’m not going!” and they said “let’s go to the, to the, to the police” and when you came to the police they would give you a warning letter and said that you were besieging tourism, and, and you were with your friends, to find you a cause. You suffered a lot. Eh, foreigners, foreigners, foreigners could and were sitting there in the place, and police arrived and told Cubans to leave and foreigners could sit, even gay foreigners in the place. We were many discriminated against. We had no right, rights as Cuban gays there were no rights there. In Cuba, there is an institution called the CNC, which is the National Center for Sexual Relations, which is the, pr… which provides guidance for LGBT persons in Cuba. That center is go… is governed by the daughter of, of, ehh, Raúl Castro, Mariela Castro is her name. That center is a, it’s, for bi… ehh, to help gay people, trans people who have problems in, in Cuba, create associations. Which associations do not, do not have the value, the required value. These associations are created with people they, who they agree. It suits them and is… and it is… to… to, at the mercy of their domain and they can make them serve for, for their services. Ehm, they’re not created voluntarily, eh, or, or, uh, or, the… or those, or the persons who are, who are responsible for the associations are not elected, ehhm, ehhm, voluntarily. Eh, uh, uh, uh, it’s more, uh, inside the, the, of the, of the… of those, the LGBT, aha. They’re not put by her. They’re put by her. Look, she is going to be the boss and that’s it, without, no ha… have someone chosen nothing and that’s it. 

If I, if I understand correctly, what, what you mean is that those people have an association that, that’s supposed to help everyone, but they choose a single party and, and those are the ones that are right there, but the others… That?
Oh no, no, no, no, yeah, no, no, not yet, yet. I mean that people were, was chosen by, by, by, by them, by, by that person, but, but it was not chosen by the, by the people. And to them what?? they were the, they were the ones who said. I wanted to say like, like President Diaz-Canel, he was finger-picked: Look, this is going to be the boss here… 

 

Ahh, because you.., I didn’t understand what… I didn’t understand that so much…
Aha.

Because, uh, how to tell you, that, those who run, you talk about those who run the association weren’t…
Umju, of course. 

It wasn’t a vote, let’s…
Aha, no. 

To vote…
Aha. 

But it’s just that those people from the management, were they taking care of everyone? Or in… equally or did they have their dome?
No, no, no. No, no, not yet, yet. I’m talking, I’m talking about, of the, the, the, the management of the association. I still haven’t talked about, about the functions of the association, what they were doing. 

Oh, okay. Excuse me, but…
Ok. Shall I continue? 

(Yeah, yeah. )
Were you recording? 

(Yeah, of course… )
Well, then those associations, uh, those associations don’t give aid to, they haven’t helped, at all. There was a lot, uh, uh what is the word?… Regionalism, regionalism. The priorities were given to the capital of Havana. All, all priorities. Ehh, trans people, LGBT people or that, uh, for example, you wanted to do a breast operation, and then to do a breast operation, you had, you had to go through a commission, where that commission was valued, valued by the people of Havana and they were the ones who decided whether they operated on you or not. But to get to that commission you had to meet the requirements that, that were, that were, what, that demanded the associati… the, the commission and the association. For example, one of, of the requirements, you couldn’t think freely or express yourself freely, about what you felt, of… social, you couldn’t, uh, if you said, “Oh, I’m not, I don’t, I don’t agree with this!”, because this really is one, this is an association that is not worth it, because no, no, it really does not meet the, with, with the value, with the values that one wants, does not… it’s the interests, uh, that they can get… get peope out, but in the politically. Many associations that, to belong you had to p… you had to be from the Communist Party of Cuba, not to… ehh, or Youth. If you did not belong to some, to any communist association related to, to, the, to the socialist revolution, you could not belong, you could not belong there to those associations. And because of that, it was you didn’t have the rights, those rights, to, to go through a commission, to do, and to make your transformation in Cuba. Ehh, people, many, many friends of mine did the operation illegally, in centers, in hidden centers that were overpriced, and the illegal operations were done. Uhh, the… the CNC center in Cuba, did it, made it to freeloaders, to known people. They didn’t do.. they didn’t… they didn’t do the operations to people that wanted, who had a… a psychological assessment, ehhm… Oh, how do you… Oh, what is it called? , psychological, uh, uh, the… the doctor who, that has to do with testosterone and stuff that, with hormones and that…

Neurological…
No, no, no. 

Physiological…
No, no, no. What’s the doctor who has to do with neurons, with the, the hormones… 

The pain?
With hormones, hormones. No, no. Endocrine! 

(Endocrinologue. )
Endocrine, endocrine. With the endocrine, uh, there were people who had their psychological and endocrine and psychiatric assessments, and who were fit to go through the commission. But since those people did not, they did not agree with their system or did not enter any party no, or did not include, did not include their, their, their requirements for them did not pass, they did not go through the commission because they did want them to pass the test. I mean, it was worthless, there was no right, there were no rights, we had no right. Many trans began to illegally leave the country. Uh, and it was a massive, massive escape. Currently, people started leaving the country illegally, going through a lot of work, I preferred… e, , because no, they knew they weren’t going to, find their… the real freedom, the real, uh, life they wanted. And their… and their, and their, and their futu… and their, and their future, and they were not going to have a proper future. Uh, I’m in… there was a… people began to go out massively, trans friends of mine began to go out massively, illegal, to seek political asylum in many countries. From… The, uh, the frien… I had, I have close friends who asked for political asylum. Then, they would tell me, when they came to those countries that were accepted and had asked for asylum, they told me the situation there, that was different from what they thought, that was not what everyone was saying, many years telling us there in Cuba that there were no laws there, that, that there were discriminated against, that, that, that, to… many stories that they invent in Cuba to, to keep us blind from reality. And then, when my friends talked about all that, a lot of people and, and, and others, and others, and other trans, and so, so the, the, the situation of countries, what was LGBT like, that they really gave you the place you needed. You arr… You arrived to an association and, and they accepted you for what you were, not for your, for your political ideas, neither, neither you, nor your, nor your ideas, ehhhm, oh no…!

(Philosophical? )
Aha!… Not because of your political ideas or, or because of your, your position, uh… 

Social.
Social or other things. They accepted you for what you were and for what you wanted to be. So, uh, in 2017 I decided, I decided to take that step, take that step and leave Cuba. Because every day I felt more, felt that my life had no, had no future, nor was I going to find, nor was I going to find myself there, what I wanted to do I was not going to be able to do because it was very difficult. Then, I decided to inform myself well about how to come to seek asylum and what the situation was like. With my friendships too, so I could go. Uh, and I and… and in… I got a ticket for Russia. I took a ticket for Russia with a stopover in France, with a stopover in France. Ehh, and there I gathered all the accumulated papers, my fines that fi, fi, that the… that Cuban police put on me for dressing up as a woman. I brought my… I bro… I brought a ce… a certificate of, of… 

Warning.
No, no, a… of a doctor, what is it like? One, a medical prescription of my emotional, psychological state, I took it. A lot of paper. I brought the military service discharge as I was, that I was, I wasn’t accepted because I was gay. Because, not now, not now, but before in Cuba, for example, I was nur… I was a nurse assistant and I wanted to pursue a nursing career and if you didn’t pass military service, you had no right, you had no right, they said, “No, you didn’t pass military service!” You had no right. And then a lot of people from… many people stopped exercising their careers for that, because of… for that, for that situation alone. And they… And, and they stopped being good professionals because of that. And then since there’s no… since I did not pass military service, I did not have the right to, to, to continue my career, as a nurse, umju. I brought my military service role with me and I decided. And the… January 30, 2018 I arrived here to, to, France, which was a thing in… ah! Unfo… unforgettable. It was an unforgettable experience. I have a sister in Barcelona, a sister who loves me very much and accepts me. She goes to Cuba every, every year, regularly. And she helped me with the ticket, her lawyer, uhm, informed her what the asylum was like. When I got there, that I asked for asylum. And, and also because of French laws… of European law, that the first country where you, uh, stop in Europe is the co… is the co… is the country where you have to ask for asylum. It can’t be in several countries, no; it’s the first country where you make a stopover. Uhmm, and that’s it, and I arrived on January 30, January, thinking, thinking that I would be able to go to Barcelona with my sister. Uh, when I got here at the end, something new, unexpected, unknowingly, no, no, no, no, no, not that. Well, I couldn’t get out. Well, I decided to ask for asylum. I did the asylum process. They put me three days into a center called the ZAPI here at Charles-de-Gaulle Airport. You are interviewed, a judge, a lawyer from the O… from the Ofpra. And there they decide if they give you permission to go out and ask for asylum. And I did, uh, after three days I did my interview, they approved it. When, I said, “Well, now where am I going? I don’t know where to go! what to do. I, without knowing, in a country that I never kne… huge, with different culture, different language. Very difficult, very difficult. Uh, I know how to speak some English, with that I could defend myself. And then they ask me if I had a family… friends or family here in France, and I said no, I didn’t have anyone. And the judge, he said to me, “Don’t worry that a person will come here who will pick you up!” So, he comes and picks me up a person in a car who was from Red Cross. And that person took people who didn’t have families to help… to help them, to take them there to an institution called the Red Cross, which is located at the airport. And there they help that person and give them lodging and they are helping them in the process of… that of the asylum claim. Ok. There it is… Oh, uh, that person… I had a very good time with that person. That person opened the doors for me, and there I met the director of the Red Cross, uh, I have a good relationship with her. I love her a lot because she did a lot for me, a lot for me. I love her very much. That person did a lot for me. That inclusively, uh, there, that, that cross is transit, it’s transit. I mean, they’ll get you… They’re fixing the papers, they’re guiding you, and when you’re on the way, they, uh, there’s a social worker who works there with them. They send you to associations and they link and give you a location, you have to go there. And you’re going out and other people come and go, and it’s like that, like that, like that, a cycle. Uhh, but with my tran condition… trans, my location here in France was very difficult. I mean, I spent a year and a half or almost two years with these people and those people had me there until, until they gave me my location and they helped me here in France in everything, everything, everything, everything, everything, everything, everything, everything. I have to thank these people so much, and I love them very much. That, those people gave me, they gave me a hand. Thanks to them, I never slept on the street, nor I had the need, for work or anything like that. They paid for hotels, paid for a three-room hotel a day, and there they have nine people, nine people who sleep there and so, like that. And, and there I was, and they kept that permanent spot,  for over a year and a half and they had me there. And they said, “Don’t worry, stay strong, because… stay strong, that everything will be fine!” 

(Okay. )
Umju. Uh, well, I did my process, I did my process in the year, in, uh, in January I did my process with those people. Uh, in February I made my story, my story. And in… and send it to Ofpra. Uh, the interview came to me in Ju… in May, in May, in May of that same year, of 2018, I did my interview. Uh, next month, uh, I picked up my answer. I get the letter of reco… of… recommendation, that I had received an important response. I went to pick it up and when I got there, it was, it was the answer, and the answer was positive. Uh, for me it was very, very emotional. It was like, like, being born again, ’cause I felt like, they gave me a chance, you know? An opportunity. And for me was something very, very emotional, very emotional. Very emotional that moment, because I felt that, that I… that I could take root here in, in France, and that they were going to give me a place and, and that, and they were going to accept me. Well. Then, ok, I started the process of fixing the papers, my stay, I started doing the, what, I joined OFII, I did the French course. There, uh, I passed the first level, A1. It’s very difficult for me, very hard to learn French, uh, it’s been very difficult for me. Very difficult, because sometimes sentimental situations, do not let you, and the jobs that one goes through, do not let you concentrate on what, on what you want. And when a person is very far from their family without, without anyone, it is very difficult. It is very difficult to go through things, hard things that one goes through away from his family (coughing). Oh, excuse me! It’s very hard. I know that France is a country of, of, refugees and, and I know that it is very hard because in the end, at, like me, many, many people go through a lot of work and it is very difficult to get here. Hey, when, uh… I saw, I joi… I, I, joined an association called ACCEPTESS-T that is located, located in Barbès, 39 bis. Uh, that association is formed of trans Latinas. There I joined, there they informed me of many things, many situations and helped me in many things. I am very happy, very happy with that situation, with that, with that association. Uh, I signed up for… em, en, en… in plo… in plo, Pôle Emploi [French unemployment agency]! Pôle Emploi, uh, one, I met a very divine consultant, very good, very good. Uhmm. So what… Uh, I, I signed up in Paris, at a, at a home center, uh, in a domiciliation office eh, eh, where one could… could pick up their e-mails and their stuff. And there was a social worker who was the one who cared for me, who was the one who looked for me in this shelter where I am now. That social worker, she got in for a year and a half without… She never did his job, she wasn’t interested in my situation, she gave no… Oh, she gave no sh***, oh no, no sh***, no, because you’re not going… (laughs). She didn’t care, she didn’t care about my situation. Many, many times I went there, many times I cr… I cried because I cried, cried with helplessness because I couldn’t do anything and I saw that she wasn’t doing her job and she wasn’t interested in anything. Uhm, until one day, one day, I couldn’t do it anymore. One day I couldn’t take it anymore and I couldn’t take it anymore. And I went, and I went very, eh, col… oh how do you say… 

Angry?
Uh-huh, but how do you say…

(Angry? )
Yeah, uh, uh, on Spa— Yeah, I forgot how to say it in Spanish. Aha. And, and angry, very angry, very angry…

It exists in Spanish, choleric.
Aha. Yeah, but anger, but it’s just that I… 

Choleric…
Yeah, but… (speaks one above the other). 

Choleric, the correct way to say it is choleric.
Hey. And then I went there. Because a… au… Uh, uh, uh, though I had some Cuban friends of mine who gave me a location in a shelter and they told me there was a place there and, and they were in that same house where I was, that association. And they told me that there’s a place there, that my social worker didn’t, she didn’t look for anything because there were places there and I can, and I can search for mails. I went there and I went with that, and I took them the papers and took them the address where she was and I brought, I told them a lot of things and then… 

(No, no, it’s okay! )
Ok? 

(Yeah, now. )
And then and there she called to that place and saw that there was a place, but it was for a… eh, uh, then, then when she, when I arrived, uh, that day, I was, angry, in anger… 

Fierce.
She, uh, uh, aha. She realized and said, “Oh? let me get to work!” Because I already, because I couldn’t take it anymore, because I felt like she was laughing in my face, laughing at me, because she didn’t do her job. She was doing her job when I got the day there, the day she was on her date, and then she would take care of me, she said, “Yes, you have to… there is…!” She was doing her papers, we’re going to, we’re gonna do this, we’re gonna do this, we’re gonna do this, but she didn’t do anything. And then she would come back, when I was on the other date, she’d reopen her papers and says, “Yeah we’re going to do, let’s do it!” But she didn’t do anything. And then I got tired. And then that day I told her, I told her the truth. I told her the truth and how I felt. And she called there. And when I went that day to Charles-de-Gaulle Airport, which was where I slept, that I slept at the Red Cross there, that they rented the hotels because I lived, I would move from Charles-de-Gaulle to Paris, Charles-de-Gaulle to Paris, and there. And there I was coming, I had to come and see the social worker on dates, on, uh, Mondays they were for, for people who didn’t have an appointment. And every Monday I went there, I went, I went, uh, and, and the… many times and many times they attended five people at a time. And since I lived far away at Charles-de-Gaulle Airport, I would get from there sometimes, sometimes like at, like, like at 6, and she told me she couldn’t attend me and she wouldn’t do it, she’d say to go back the following Monday. Uhh, so she called that place and there was a vacancy, I realized, I realized that she had never done her job. She, she only did it after I went and did something and, and, and, and I went, and I gave her a pie..a piece of my mind and I said, I said she wasn’t doing her job. And then she, she even told me, calls me and says. Well, that same day when I left, when I left there, when I return home, I was on my way, she calls me and tells me that, she had already found a placement for me. Then, I realized that she has spent more than a year laughing at me and wasn’t… and wasn’t doing her job. Uhh, and she even told me that she had called there and, and there were vacancies, but that they were shared, but she called somewhere else, which is cu… currently where I am, where they had available spots. So she never did her job. She did her job when I needed it. I di… And then she looked for me this, this one, this shelter, uh, and, and she processed it. [Even, even] I have always been a very grateful person, I didn’t thank her because she didn’t deserve it. She didn’t deserve it. I left and I didn’t thank her for finding me the shelter, nor that she found it for me and I left. Ok. Ehm, when I got the location, the Red Cross people than…, uh, they probably were happier than me. They, they didn’t know what to… what to do. It was like a triumph, like a triumph. Those people really… That part was very nice, because those people..it was like a triumph that they… that they had, that they had because, ehhm, I was the trans person there and, and they loved me a lot, and they were looking for my location and they wanted me to give me location, because they saw the work I was going through for looking for a location. And then other people came, other people, and they left, and they left, and they saw that I was staying because it was very difficult, there’s a lot of discrimination. And then whe… Eh, for them, uh, for them, for, was a triumph, a triumph of them. And they, and they, it was a very nice time, very emotional for me that day, and for them. Uh, I came here and I joined… the… I started looking for work. I started looking for a job, I went to the 13, and I had a Pôle Emploi consultant that I currently have and is very good. She sought out other kinds of training for me. They didn’t accept me in any kind of training. They would test me and say when, when it wasn’t because I don’t French, they’d say they’d call me later, then they say no. They said that later, what they said, I said… everything was, they told me, they told me and everything was about discriminating against me. Everything was no, they didn’t accept me for, they didn’t accept me for what, because I was trans. There were even people who had no resources, who didn’t know anything, didn’t know, neither write nor, nor even wri… They didn’t know how to read or write, and they accepted them later because I saw then I went there  and, and they didn’t, they… in him, in Pôle Emploi one day I remember that I went on a date and when I see, “Oh, what are you doing here?” “No, I came, I came because the… they called me because they accepted me in that!” And I said, “Oh, but she, but…” And I was amazed, that person didn’t even know how to write. Then though I see that I did well my, my, my, my test, they didn’t approve me, and they told me that later, that may be in another, that not now. And then I felt very discriminated, very discriminated against. At the association I met one, a girl that I to… I told her, uh, that, I came to the association to see if there were jobs there and this and what… if she knew o… she had any knowledge, where I could work. That person told me that she knew a place where they gave work there, where they were giving work and that she was working a long time ago, that she was there. She gives me the data and I went there the next day, I took my data. That association, it calls me and that is, that’s the association where I’m currently working. That was the association, the only one who gave me… who has has opened the doors in th… in this, in this country, in this country, the only one. Because many times I also handed out CV with my friends and they gave work to my friends and me they didn’t give me a job, because the problem is that the society here is very confused. Society here thinks that the trans person is prostitution, problem, and drug addiction. And it’s not because when I arrived, when I got here in France, I saw, in the association where I arrived, I saw that all, all, all trans were prostituted. And I said, “But how is it possible? how is it possible for them to be prostituted if there is a lot of work here in France! how is it possible?” I didn’t know, I didn’t know. Then with, in the trajectory, in the course I realize why trans prostituted themselves, because they were not accepted in most, in most… at work. They weren’t just accepted, they were discriminated against and they didn’t… and they didn’t have a place. Ehhm, then in that association they sta… they started to attend to me. Ehh I’v… Uhh, I was, I’ve been a year, it was last year, in the last year… last year, last year, in November they started to attend me. In January they give me a first mission. The mission was school surveyor. Imagine, imagine, imagine, a trans in, at a, uh, school looking after children. That was my first mission. When I got there, that was, I had a great time. I had a great time, because I worked in a children’s hospital and I love working with children. I love it. I love it a lot and I, uh, see the kids and I love that. And I spent it, I, that day I was very happy, very happy of my, my, my pl… of my work. I came here with new, new, new, new… 

Aspirations.
Aspirations, yes because I already think… Hey, my paths were beginning to open. I thought that… my paths were beginning to open. When I ar, when I arrive, they call me from the association and says that the director, the director, had called that I should not go anymore. When they told me that, when they told me that, I felt very, very, very, very, very, that was a total depression, a total depression. I fell on the floor, on the floor. A total depression that fell fortnight here in the foyer that I didn’t go out. And it was crying, crying, crying, crying, crying, crying, crying, crying every day. Yeah, I didn’t… I didn’t know what to do. I fell in, I fell in, uh, I fell to, ehhm, oh how is it… 

Depression.
Depression, depression, but the depression that I couldn’t get out of here, I couldn’t get out of here from the foyer, that when I… And then to that depression the, the, the confinement was added to it. Then the confinement plus that depression led me to stay, stay in my room, that I got in. I get out of my room here. And when, and I couldn’t open the door, I couldn’t open the door, because when I was going to open the door I started to get dizzy, I felt bad, I, well. And it was like that, like that, like that, and it was the depression I had. I fe… hey, hhm, what is it called, what is it called when you get used to where you live, that already, from here to there you don’t want to… What, it happened to a lot of people in the confinement too, you see, you saw that, that, that is… 

You isolated yourself, you isolated yourself.
Yeah, yeah, but, but, but there’s a… about that, uh, ehmm, you say, ehhm, I don’t remember how you say… 

Tell me a phrase…
You… have, have, have, no, no, have, have, have, a doctor’s prescription, a doctor’s prescription that people here in France that… as in the confinement they were in their room for a long time, and then when they went out they didn’t get used to… 

Oh, a phobia, a phobia.
Aha, aha, aha, aha. I created, created a phobia, a phobia. I already felt that the place do… My place was there, it was there. When I walked out the door to the outside, I felt dizzy and there were many situations. I couldn’t, I couldn’t even walk anymore. To go to the store around the corner it took, it took… It took up to three days because I was scared, I thought I was going to fall. And it was all due to the situation I went through with the director and then the confinement and this was aggravated by the problems of COVID in my country, of my family, that I couldn’t help them because I couldn’t get a job, I couldn’t. Uh, there was a lot of discrimination here, I couldn’t, I couldn’t get anything. How many years, I’ve been two years, two and and some, uh, two years here in France, I didn’t get anything, I stayed in the same situation, I had my documentation, I had a place to live, but I couldn’t find a job and I didn’t want that. And it was, and thinking, it started, started, started, and I fell into a very big crisis, a crisis, a very big, very big depressive crisis that I didn’t get out of here, here, here, here and, and I got out of here already. I started to go to the doctor to exam the dizziness and things because when I went out I was scared, I was scared, they did all kinds of tests, they did everything, see this and that. And no, no, you don’t have anything, no, no, I don’t know, I don’t know about you, what this and that. And I didn’t even know what it was and me anymore, and, and, and, uh, I got a lot, lots of exams and nothing, nothing, nothing. The doctor said to me, “You don’t have anything, I don’t know, I don’t know about you…” And it turns out it was all the stress, the stress that caused me… that caused me the discrimination, the discrimination that was given to me by the, the principal of that school. When I got here, I told the social worker of mine, the social worker said, “Oh, what a pity you are.” She came in… she didn’t care, she didn’t care, she wasn’t interested. She left, recently. And I and, and, and, and be… and because of that, and that’s why when she left, I was really happy because she didn’t do any good work here. And if she comes here, I tell her to her face, because I am, I am, a person who is not afraid. I’d tell her to her face, I, uh, no problem I’d tell her. And then, uh, I started to… I started giving myself pills for the dizziness and stuff like that, I don’t know. And then when the confinement was over, the association called me, I had one, that I had a, an association for me to do a cleaning mission and I started there to do, to do the… em… That was my first job and I started in that association, I spent a month. I… I spent 15 days. At 15 days the same association calls me to give me another mission in another association. And I started on it. And then, like… So, when they saw the result of my work and that I was a serious person, and that I was a person who… the association was very happy with me, and that I was very much of that, they started to call me to give me work. And um… so they trusted me because they didn’t, they didn’t, they didn’t… they, they didn’t, they did it because of, because of pressure too, because they as an association had, in a year, they have to give a job to a person and I had been, I had been there for a year and they hadn’t, and, and they had never given me an assignment, you see? And then they are precise with me because they know they didn’t give me a job. And they say, “no, come on,” and then they started to give me a job. And I… because it’s an asos… ion, an interim association. So they’re obliged to look for a job for people and if not, and if you had a year or a person there and you haven’t given them a job, then you haven’t given solutions eh, it’s, it’s, it’s that you… You’re doing a bad job. And then they start looking for missions, missions, missions, and I started to work. And there I started working and I’m currently working with associations and I am very happy with those jobs and they are very happy with me. I never thought of cleaning the floor, cleaning, I never thought because, I tell you, I worked as a nursing assistant, worked as, as a hairdresser, yes th… there in my, in me, in my country… 

Hairdresser.
Aha. But I never, never, never, cleaned. I had, I had to say that I knew how to clean, in Cuba I clean… I had to tell them that I cleaned up in Cuba, because it was the only job I was going to get here in, in France… And, and, and it was, and it was very painful when there, when there in the association they asked me, “And what were you… were you doing in Cuba? I said, “I was cleaning.” I was cleaning because, because it was the only job I could find here in France. Well, uh, that’s where I started to… to… ok… right now I feel very good in the association, they love me very much. Last month, the journalist who… is the director, they make a publication of the, of the, of the association, a booklet or a book, uhm, every so often. And the director offered me to do a photoshoot and an interview. They were going to come and interview me to, to publish, to publish it in the book, because they, they, they’ve seen, have placed good responsibility and good seriousness in me, see? And they realized that I’m a person I’m always on the lookout, oh, uh, what I call them, “Is there work?”, “give me a mission, I need,” “give me what…” They see I’m willing to… 

Eagerly.
Aha. And then they are very happy with me, very happy with me and I am very happy with them. Ehm, and then, uh, they did the interview and I th.., and they’re going to release it next year in a book where I’m going to appear. Eh, and it goes, there they’re also going to talk about me, my life, my life, something about my life and my work as a cleaner, about a trans that works as a cleaner within the association. And there they’re going to talk, they’re going to, talk about me too. I’ll show up in the book, they, they don’t… in the, in, and there’s going to appear some of my story too. Ehhm, ok. Currently, ah aft… As a result of that my discomforts began to, they were aggrav…, they were going away and diminishing. As it was all stress because my head was already thinking, I no longer had time to think about bad things and good things are coming to me, see? And that helped me a lot, a lot. And I got up little by little, me, but it was very difficult. I was going alone, alone, walking around, and I got frequent dizzy spells,  frequent dizzy spells and I didn’t… and I had to look back. I had very, very, very bad times, and never, ever, ever, my social worker cared about anything. I told her, and she said, “Oh, what a shame!”Thank God she left, I told her to her face, and here I’ve told her 500 times. That’s not, uh, as a social worker, it wasn’t good at all. Thank God now came a very good social worker, very good, very good. So far I haven’t done any paperwork with her, but she’s a very good person, very good person and I’m very happy with that. Eh, to summ up. That’s it. Any questions you want to ask me? 

(Tell me. )
She wants to know if… she summarized, and if you had any questions.
(No, no, yeah but… )
Aha. 

(Very powerful testimony, thank you, it is, it is… Thank you very much! Uh… There, I think that’s very good, you have… You spoke, uh… You’ve already spoken for 1 hour, 1 hour 15 I think, it’s very good. Just maybe…over I have a question about – what strength, in fact, did you find, the “strength” in you, to… How to say it, about overcoming all these tests?)
He says that, what and how did you find, if you found it, the strength to su… overcome the… everything, everything you’ve lived, everything. Because he says that you, that your testimony is very powerful. I think so too. But he wants to know from where you…
But in your character! Because you spoke of other people, you spoke of, of different people, but what about you… I, I foun… I how, how, what? 

How do you find the strength? How, how do you do that?
I… 

Because not everyone bears it.
I, I find strength because, because I’ve been a very strong person in my life. A very strong person in my life who, who has gone through many things, many things. Alone, alone, and always, and always, I’ve always done it alone. And I’ve been through things that, that have made me get up, that made me get up, uh, always thinking about the future. The future is what has lift me up, because it is the, the future is what makes you reborn and makes you create your ideas. And my family, too. My family too… 

They support you.
Ehhm, they support me and, and I want to give them a, a, a by… a life, a better life, better than they currently deserve because of the situation we have in Cuba. And it is what also helps me to work and work, and to create my positive things so I can help them. Uhm, but it’s really hard, very hard, it’s really hard. It is very hard because when a person is alone and has no one, it is very, life is very difficult, life is very difficult, life is very difficult. Here, here I met two, two, Ana, a Venezuelan woman, and I met Dolores, a lady of Spanish parents born here in France, who speaks Spanish. And… And that lady is like she was, like family to me and, and I found support in her too, that has helped me a lot. Any problem or something about that, I talk to her and she helps me and we’re gonna… and vice versa, and we help each other. And I found her as if she was a family too. Ehm, I think, also here in France, the discri… it’s not… the discrimination that I have had, which I have had mostly in Cuba, has been work-wise, work-wise. Social wise very little, but I have been a very accepted person in society. I, I’ve been a very accepted person in society. Eh, because I am a very, eh, charismatic, eh, sincere and, and a responsible, responsible person, that has led me to many merits and to carry many, many things, you know? And, and this is why it’s what kept me very strong. My futuristic ideas, like what I would like to do, is what has led me to go through those bad times, to live away from my family because of the situation that our political system has created, which is very hard. It’s very hard because I acquired refugee status, which is ten years and it’s very hard to spend ten years without seeing, your loved ones, is very hard. I also want for this year, uh, start… Hem, I want to do the paperwork to see if my mom can come, can come through Spain, for Spain, for my sis… for my sister, because I haven’t seen my mom in three years. It’s very hard. I’ve been through a lot of things alone, a lot of things alone, which sometimes is good to have a helping hand. And I’ve been through it by myself. And that’s why I’m telling you I’m a very strong person. I’m a very strong person who today, today I cry, but tomorrow, and, and I’m laughing and it’s as if nothing had happened. And I… And I know, and I know, and I know, and I know that I’m going through something hard, and, but I’m laughing. Uh, I’m a person too who doesn’t care about people’s criteria. I don’t care about the criteria, what people think, what this one thinks, I don’t care because I have to be interested in my thing. I’m not interested, whoever wants to share the criteria with me very well, whoever doesn’t want, I don’t care, I don’t care. And that, that has helped me a lot. I don’t care that the one who’s there, the one who’s cooking, being homophobic, I don’t care. You in your life or me, me in life. I don’t care if you like it or you don’t like it. I live my life and that’s it. And if you want, good, and if not too. I have my rights. I’m not afraid of anyone. I’m not afraid of anyone because this [situation] has led me to that, it led me to that. I’ve been through bad times too, but I’ve been able to defend myself, I’ve been able to defend myself. Uh, and, and that’s what led me to, as… to what, to, to g… go beyond my whole life and what I’ve been through, the future, the future. Always thinking about the future and in posi… and positive, and positive. Because I realized that thinking about negative things you’re not going to achieve anything and you fall back into a depressive state, which is what happened to me. A lot of accumulation of negative things and led me to fall into a depressive state that by little I die without having anyone here, without having anyone to help me and i, and I, and I could surpass it. Like a miracle that I don’t know how it was for, well because I’m strong. I’m telling you, I’m strong. I’m strong because, because I’ve been through a lot of things. For example, on December last year, I, I had an operation. I had to be in my bed,15 days off. I live in, I live in the, uh, in, second, second, second, second, second floor. And I with, and with my operation, I would go down and make my food, and go up again, that I had to spend 15 days resting. And, look, and I wasn’t interested. I had to do everything, everything, everything, everything, everything, everything, everything alone, and in those moments I did miss my mom a lot, I missed my mom a lot. And I just had to do everything to myself. They helped me here, but it wasn’t the same because people work and they are, and they go out, and that, and if they have their lives, you know? And I couldn’t keep an eye on someone helping me, I had to do it by myself. I just had to do that myself. And that, me, it hurt me a lot, it hurt me a lot. And a lot of things, many things that sometimes hu… that hurt a lot. That’s why I’m telling you. For example, very, uh, uh, sometimes, sometimes, sometimes I go through bad times, I’m sad and I never tell my mom what I’m going through because I don’t want her to, I don’t want her to think, I don’t want her to think I’m bad here or something that. Right now I feel good, but there are times, there are times that one misses their family, and yo… you don’t have anyone. And when my mom calls, I say that I’m fine and I’m happy. That’s very, it’s very painful. That she thinks, that I, I have to make her think what’s not. That’s very painful. And, and so on. And those things to me, have led me to… 

To be strong.
To be strong. Recently, uh, recently, now, for example, this partner, I joined a group called Cubans in Paris. That, uh, we, we are, it’s a group that, that’s, that’s in… in support of the… the… 

The opposition movement, an opposition movement.
The Cuban opposition where… And, and I joined that group because I left my country because of that. And then, and I joined the group of that to fight against Cuban injustice, against the Cuban dictatorship that has divided us, has divided our family unprecedented, and without interest in what happens to one. And it is very sad, it is very sad that thanks to them our families are divided and going through work with many, many, many, many places in the world. And then I joined that group. And it’s gone quite well because look, I met new people, I met new Cubans, who have been for years… years here, and other friends, and that’s very good. That’s very good because you see, felt ano…o…another change of life, another environment, I met other people. Hey, and that’s good, you know? It’s good because it’s good to always meet people, see? And that’s why I, I felt really good about it… with that. Recently, hu… The first, uh, uh, we ran a protest and, and I took part in that protest. It was my first protest because in Cuba we… we don’t have, we can’t protest because we have no rights. And I didn’t know, I didn’t even know how I felt… I, was my first protest, but I, but I went, I went to show that I too do not agree with that dictatorship, that has divided us all my… the families, us. There is, there is no, no laws or equality, there is nothing. Uh, because thanks to that dictatorship, I’m here and I’m away from my family and that’s why I included myself. And I had never participated in a protest, but I was there, It was there because I wanted to prove even something, even if it’s my presence there, like I, I agree with them, with those Cubans who are also in, in, favor of freedom. And, and that’s why I included myself there, because thanks to, thanks to th… that dictatorship is that I am far from my family. And that’s why I’m going to keep fighting and what I can contribute to, as far as I can. Uh, and that’s it.  

(Okay. Oh, Wow. Ok… Thank you for everything. And, for the project, there is one question I always ask at the end. It’s that, that… How can I put it? Uh, what were your dreams when you arrived in France? Ehh, can you answer by saying: “befo…” “I don’t know how to say, before, before… Before you leave, eh before I had to leave my country, my dream was to…? Because we are interested in… The dreams of people…
Before and after.
(That’s it! And even now, today.)
Okay. Hey, did you understand?
Yes. My, my dreams before and after. 

(Voilà! Before and after, both, and if you… )
Before I left, uh… 

(That’s it. )
Before leaving Cuba, my, uh, my… my dream was a better life before I left Cuba. A better life, in, ehh, eh, accepted into society, eh, and have my rights, rights. After leaving Cuba… 

(Today. )
Today, at the present time, I would like to… Well, before, before my dream, my dream, my first dream here in France, I think after the paperwork, was finding a job. I already have that one. That, that was one of my dreams here in France. Now, my fu… Now my, my future dream here, is… 

Bring your mom? Work to bring your mom.
No, I’m working. But look… 

To bring your mom.
Go on, uh, oh, how do you say when, when you’re going to, pro… 

Progress?
Yeah, but what, uh… 

Evolving?
Hey, no, no. Uh, for example, I’m today, today I’m the floor cleaner and I want to be a professional tomorrow. 

Yeah, evolving into your…
No, but evolving is a, it’s a… but professionally. Evolving no, evolving is not that, see, I want to continue pro… progressing professionally, professionally I would like to continue profr… Hey, aha. Because I tell you, I work cleaning, not because I did it, I never did it, because I didn’t have a choice here in Paris, in France. I never did, and you… And I had to say yes, that I was a cleaner, that I cleaned in my country and I never did. I had to say it, continue, aha, evolve in the, in the professional training, professional of my work. That’s me, that, that, that’s my future. (noise) I think it’s Ana. 

 

Hem, no.
No? 

(No, it’s not, no. Okay. Thank you very much, thank you very much, Celine. )
No, thanks to you. 

(Uhh, we’re done, unless you want to add something?)
Uhmm, no. I think I’ve already said everything. 

(Do you think you talked a lot? )
I think, what’s more, I have, I, have, I said quite a lot. There are many thi… There are many things left, uh, there can be a lot of things left, but what’s more, but the fundamental… 

The essentials.
The essentials, I’ve re… I’ve had it… I’ve ha… I had to summarize it. Because it’s very difficult, 38 years to summarize them, summarize it in a, in, in, in a few hours. 

(No, no, no, of course! )
Hey, what, the essentials already, I said it already. 

(Okay. )
Hey, I want to tell you that, yes, I said everything. I said everything and I feel, uh, what, I have, the summary was that. 

Released.
(Thank you. )
No, I meant, that I’m… that I never thought that I would leave my country because of the discrimination that there was to reach, to the country of… to Europe, to the First World countries. But I never thought that in the First World countries there would be as much discrimination as in my country, as in my Third World country. Given that Europe is so, so, uh…

Ancient?
No, so, so, so, so modern, so, and so, uh, open-minded, how is it? so… 

Liberal?
Uh, so much… 

Tolerant?
Given that there is more culture, culture, they have more culture. I never thought there was going to be as much racism as in my country. That, that’s a real thing, because I’ve lived it and all that. Ehh, despite many associations and many activities you do here and many laws, there is a lot, a lot, a lot of discrimination. Honestly, I never thought. That’s why my life will continue with my fight against discrimination, to, to follow my goals. But that is something I never, never thought. 

Okay, okay, thank you.

 

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Transcribed and translated by:

Edited by:

Dayana Guzman, Jesús Zamora

Fletcher Reveley

Transcribed and translated by: Dayana Guzman, Jesús Zamora

Edited by: Fletcher Reveley

Many 1000 Dreams interviews were not conducted in English. Their translation has not always been performed by professional translators. Despite great efforts to ensure accuracy, there may be errors.