WEST COVINA, Calif. — It is often the old school cars that many know the island of Cuba for, but Cuban Americans throughout Southern California said there is much more to their beloved country.

They are protesting in solidarity with those in Cuba as an uprising continues on the island due to a lack of food and medicine.

What You Need To Know

  • Protestors in Cuba have taken to the streets to speak out against the regime's 62 year old Communist system

  • Arleen Milian, a Cuban refugee in Los Angeles, fled the island in 1970 under political asylum

  • She hopes the new surge of protests will provide freedom for her family abroad

  • Protests continue throughout Southern California at various locations, includes Porto's Bakeries

It is a pain that Arleen Milian knows all too well.

As she prepared her cafecito in her LA home, she explained how she fled her native Cuba with her family in 1970, arriving in the U.S. as a refugee under political asylum.

When she heard about the recent protests taking place on the island, she worried for her remaining family’s safety.

“When I found out that there was an uprising, my first initial thought was my family. Because I talk to my family constantly through WhatsApp, we are in constant communication, practically every day,” she explained. 

Her old passport displays Milian’s refugee status. While she appreciates the freedoms she has here in the United States, she said the separation that she had to endure, from her father and her culture, is something that she is continuing to heal from.

“Me being a refugee means that I was basically displaced as a child from 2 years old,” she said.

Milian is not alone.

She, alongside many other Cuban immigrants, has been critical of the Communist regime. One protester at the Porto’s Bakery in West Covina said he hopes the U.S. will intervene.

“I was born in Cuba and I left Cuba at the age of 14 and a half, looking for freedom, opportunities, freedom of speech. Something that I was denied in my own country. Communism does not work. That’s why we are asking Mr. Biden, the White House, to get behind us,” he said.  

But not every Cuban is on the same page.

Some blame the U.S. embargo for Cuba’s economic hardships, while others believe the entire government system has censored and failed its people.

As Milian reflects on her childhood in Cuba, she hopes the protests will spark real change.

“My hope is that, from this, my people will experience the freedom that I have — the freedom that is every human being’s divine right. And, that, from that freedom, we’ll start the healing process,” she said. 

Healing she hopes every Cuban will be able to experience.