There was a time when Cuban Raul Garcia could not move around without police escort, much less drive a car.
However, today his life has taken a 180-degree turn and the former prisoner — who was only allowed back into his native Cuba after spending 15-and-a-half years in prison here on cocaine charges and another three-plus years afterwards in immigration detention in Barbados — is looking to open his own taxi business and to offer a sightseeing service for visitors to his native Cuba.
Garcia, who now lives “a decent and quiet life” in Havana, said his focus over the past three years has been on building his family’s future.
“Soon from now I’ll be able to provide a taxi or sightseeing service to anyone who wishes and needs to be transported to any part of Cuba in my car,” he revealed at the end of a 12-day visit to Havana by his former lawyer David Comissiong.
Comissiong, who was travelling with his daughter Aisha, said they were escorted to the Jose Marti Airport by Garcia.
And at the Barbadian attorney’s suggestion, the former prisoner later prepared a written update for Barbadians on his new life.
“Today was a great day for me because after three years I was able to reunite with a great man and saviour of my life in the year 2013 in the beautiful island named Barbados,” Garcia said in his statement.
He also expressed his love and gratitude to Barbados, which he said was “one of the most important countries” in his life.
“To my people of Barbados I wish you the best and the most happy New Year. I want all of you to know that my promises have been kept and that my life has been changed into what I am today — a good law-abiding citizen to the world and its people.
“I also want you to know that my love for Barbados has not and will never change as long as I live. Thanks to all of you in Barbados who assisted and supported me in my time of crisis,” he said.
In extending best wishes to the people of Barbados, Garcia said: “I hope that God keeps blessing this beautiful Island throughout its eternal existence.
“One day – and I know that God will help me on this – I’ll be able to visit this island again so I can express these words in person.
I send my love and best wishes in this year of 2017 to every individual in Barbados. Let peace and harmony be the main reason for all of us to share with one another this year. God bless you all,” he added. (KJ)