AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – A former Television Park reporter and anchor, who is a Cuban-American, is sharing her story about leaving Cuba at the age of 8 with NewsChannel 6.
Janny Rodriguez worked at Television Park for about 2 years.
In 1998, she and her family left Cuba on a raft and were caught by the United States Coast Guard.
During that trip, Rodriguez and her family went 5 days without food and water.
In 1999, they decided to try again, but this time, they took a fishing boat to America.
The boat had some mechanical problems on the way and started taking in water.
Thankfully, she and her family made it to Key West.
Years later, Rodriguez and her immediate family became United States citizens after being claimed by family members who were already here.
This weekend, she drove down to Miami to spend time with her family for the holiday, but Thanksgiving turned into a celebration of the death of Fidel Castro.
While the Rodriguez family lived in the communist country, food, shelter, medicine and clothing was in short supply.
“My mom struggled a lot when we first came to the U.S. because she felt guilty that she could go to Publix and have access to all this food. She knew that her family back in Cuba probably would never see anything like that. Now that I’m older, I try to remind myself of all the good things I have. This country is so wonderful and anything you want you can literally have,” Rodriguez told us.
Even though she’s celebrating, many of her family members are not because they still live in the communist country.
“Everyone in Cuba is afraid to say one word about Fidel’s death. My mom has asked them on the phone, are you guys happy? What’s going on? And they are just avoiding answering the question. They are afraid to go outside. Alcohol, food, selling anything outside in Cuba for the next 9 days is completely prohibited,” she said.
Now that Castro is dead, she and her family are hoping the U.S. will work with Cuba to improve life there.
As for Rodriguez, she’s thankful to be living in a free country.
She is currently working on her American Dream at First Coast News in Jacksonville, Florida.