Fear drove William Zayas out of Cuba over a decade ago.
“My family was one that never agreed with the Cuban government because it was a family that was oppressed by the Cuban government,” the 46-year-old said in Spanish on a recent grocery shopping trip at Orlando Latin Market.
Zayas’ father, Alfredo Zayas, was a political prisoner in their native Cuba who arrived to the United States in 1996. Zayas left the country nearly a decade later, arriving here in Sept. 28, 2004.
Zayas said the Cuban people have been oppressed for many years by the Fidel Castro regime. He said his family desired free and fair elections.
“Where there would be freedom of the press,” he added.
Where young people, Zayas said, would have libertades. Freedoms.
“I’ve always had a good impression of this country because this a country where freedom of the press exists — where there are liberties for all,” he said. “It’s a country with thousands of opportunities.”
(LISTEN: Zayas shares his thoughts on the Cuban government in the below audio clip)
In the U.S., Zayas said his son graduated from school and became a mechanic. Zayas himself thanked God and said he was able to open a new cleaning business.
Learning the English language, however, is a work in progress for Zayas.
Zayas said if he needed to talk to someone, he would say, “I need talk to you.”
He asked for a question in English.
“How are you doing today?”
Zayas: “I’m fine and you?”
“I’m good! Thank you.”
Zayas: “Yea… yea… I don’t know.”
He quickly turned to Spanish and said “Do you want to ask me something else? I don’t know.”
“What are you doing today?”
Zayas: “Today I’m only in the shopping. No working today… today is the shopping, me, my wife and a friend.”
“That’s good. Is it your day off today?”
Zayas: “Yea… yes I do.”
“I have learned a little English, but I need much more of the basics to be able to master it completely,” he said. “That would be one of the greatest objectives for me to achieve in this country.”
(LISTEN: Zayas practices his English with Bodega Stories creator Amaris Castillo in the below audio clip)