Today marks two years from when President Obama announced the normalizing of relations with Cuba. Hear from Julia de la Rosa, a Cuban entrepreneur, on how her life was changed by the President's actions.
My name is Julia de la Rosa, and I am a Cuban cuentapropista -- or Cuban entrepreneur. Over 20 years ago, my husband and I started our own business in Cuba providing lodging and transportation to visitors in our neighborhood in Havana. Everything about my business was on a very small scale: We had two bedrooms and one old car, and we did almost everything ourselves.
As a cuentapropista, I watched this historic change help my business grow in ways I would have never expected. The demand for our services dramatically increased with the growing number of visitors, so we had the opportunity to expand. We now run a real bed and breakfast with 10 bedrooms, and have 17 people working with us as we provide services 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Now, we’re starting a small taxi company, as transportation requests have increased -- especially in old, classic cars. Thanks to these new times, we can even come to the U.S. to buy pieces to restore our eight American cars.
More than 500,000 Americans visited Cuba last year. Ten U.S. airlines are flying between American and Cuba citizens. And American cruise lines will soon start pulling into our ports. That’s going to mean a lot for Cuba’s development.
But this new relationship has not only changed my business, it’s changed my life. Like many others Cubans, I have family in the U.S., and thanks to President Obama’s decision to re-establish relations, my biggest dream could finally come true -- to travel to Miami to meet my father's family. I am incredibly grateful to President Obama for his leadership in forging this historic change for the U.S. and Cuba, and for what it will mean to both the Cuban and American people for generations to come.
Hope to see you in Havana soon,
Julia de la Rosa