Carlos Lazo

Carlos Lazo

Maestro cubano que enseña español en Seattle, Estados Unidos, utilizando elementos de la cultura cubana como la música y las visitas de sus alumnos a Cuba para aprender sobre la vida y las personas en la Isla. Su interés es fomentar lazos de amistad entre ambos pueblos. En la actualidad completa estudios de doctorado en Liderazgo de Educación en City University of Seattle y el tema de su investigación es sistemas educativos equitativos y justicia social en las aulas.

Photo: Otmaro Rodríguez.

Cuba: Peace for those who left and those who stayed

If President Donald Trump asked me for my opinion on how to ease the pain of the Cuban family, I would talk to him. If the Cuban government invited me to talk about that topic, I would also dialogue. I know this could bother some brothers and sisters in and out of Cuba. If so, I’m sorry, but I have no choice, I’m a man of peace. I believe that the problems between peoples and governments must be resolved through dialogue and that violence and pain should never be the alternatives. My life experience makes me think like that. I confess that I don’t go to church much, but I try that the things that I do, or that I say, are guided by the sacred teachings that my mother instilled in me. My old lady was a saint. She said: “Son, where there is pain you must bring relief, and where there is resentment you must impose forgiveness.” I had been hearing that from my mother for as long as I can remember. As a child, I thought she had invented those phrases. Later I discovered that what that noble woman expressed was the preaching of love of all...

“The family is sacred”

“The family is sacred,” my father told me that day. “I will not abandon you.” At that time (a day like today three decades ago) I was imprisoned in Cuba. The crime?: “Illegal” departure from the national territory. How to forget that meeting. When the guards allowed me to go to the visiting room, I saw my dad among the crowd of relatives waiting to see their loved ones. I hadn't seen him for a few weeks, but my dad looked older, as if sadness had turned him into a hunchback. I hugged him for a second (enough for the re-educator dressed in olive green to make a severe gesture). “Family members sit on this side and inmates on the other” was heard on the loudspeaker. “What’s up dad?” I said to him, forcing a smile and trying to make the solemnity of the moment seem lighter. I was ashamed. My father was a man of humble origins born in the early 1900s. Like many in Cuba, the old man unconditionally supported the Revolution. A tobacco worker, he had led a hard life and barely knew how to read and write. And I, the son from his old age—the exemplary...

Teacher Carlos Lazo and his students from Seattle share with Cuban children from La Colmenita. Photo: Courtesy of the Author.

Don’t count on me to hate because I have two homelands

Don't count on me to hate because I have two homelands: Cuba and the United States. Cuba is my mother and the United States is my father. I lived the first half of my life walking the streets of Havana and the other half between Seattle and Hialeah. I was born and raised in Jaimanitas, a fishing town west of Havana. As a child in that little town, the elderly knew my name and if they had to scold me, they reprimanded me as if I were one of their children. “Just wait till I tell your mom!” was the most effective phrase to remind me of good manners. I spent my childhood playing hide-and-seek (or catch) and in baseball games where the ball was a cue. In Jaimanitas, the neighbors stormed the door without warning, asking “comadre, did you make coffee?” or “would you have two teaspoons of sugar?” Sometimes there was a whisper of “boy, do these people bug!” It bore no malice but love. There I received the sap of love that has accompanied me all my life. I also learned there that you can be happy with almost nothing and that a hug can be the...