By: Hatzel Vela
Julia De La Rosa’s home in the Bivora neighborhood was built in 1938. She and her husband have been trying to repair it for decades. Tourists now enjoy the historic property.
After the original homeowners left the island, the Cuban government expropriated the house. De La Rosa’s husband’s family then bought it from the Cuban government.
They are now using it to run a hospitality business, but now under President Donald Trump she is among the Cuban entrepreneurs who fear they will lose the progress that they have made. De La Rosa was among the 100 who signed a letter asking Trump to support U.S.-Cuba relations.
Michael Maisel, of Engage Cuba, a coalition lobbying to lift the embargo said, "we're in a critical moment." He believes U.S-Cuba relations could be mutually beneficial because "a lot of rural farmers could be exporting their goods to Cuba without having to pay cash in advance and that would create jobs."
De La Rosa remembers when the historic house didn't have any U.S. guests. Without the resources to upkeep it, the home had fallen into deep disrepair. The couple said they have been able to scrape some money and little by little they were able to fix it. It's a welcoming boutique hotel.
“We started with two bedrooms ,” De La Rosa said.
Now they rent out 10 bedrooms. With the slight opening of the private sector on the island and tourism, they have seen tremendous growth in the last five years.
“Airbnb got to Havana and opened the doors,” De La Rosa said.
For De La Rosa, a move to block U.S. tourists from coming to stay at her house would be devastating.
“I don’t even want to think about it,” she said.