It was 6:58 a.m. when the phone rang. I was meditating and I jumped. I never put the phone on mute, in case of a family emergency. Startled, I answered without looking at the caller ID. A familiar voice, somewhat nervous and agitated, said to me, “Today is the Day.”

Maybe if it had been an announcement, or a reminder that it was a special day—an important meeting, a doctor’s appointment, a trip—I might have had to ask for a few minutes to catch my breath and jog my memory. But I’d been waiting for more than 20 years for that moment, and that voice—that voice was part of the process; that voice and I had traveled too much, talked too much, and worked too hard over the last 12 months for me not to know, at that precise instant, what was happening. “The President is going to speak at noon,” the voice told me, hanging up without giving me time to react.

A few minutes later, I began getting alerts on my cell phone: “The Cuban government has freed Alan Gross.” I made a quick call to Washington and it was confirmed for me that the three Cubans who were still serving sentences in the United States also had been released. I raised my hands to my head and exhaled….

What we saw afterward on television, in simultaneous broadcasts in the United States and Cuba, surprised all of us…. Just like that, President Obama and President Raúl Castro talked and decided to set into motion the process of normalizing diplomatic relations between Cuba and the United States. A historic moment—a new era was dawning.

The road to restoring diplomatic relations between our country and our adopted country is a long and rocky one. It depends on two distrustful governments, on the will of those in power, and on us, too. We would hope that wisdom and good intentions prevail among the negotiators.  But the road to the reconciliation of our nation does not depend on natural or supernatural powers; it is much more intimate, and involves each and every one of us. And we are free to choose or dismiss it.

Now it is up to us, the Cuban people, those in Cuba and those outside Cuba, to shed the demons of the past so that we can begin a process of reconciliation. The normalization, peace, well-being, prosperity, happiness, and future of Cuba (our country) depends not only on politicians, but also on the good faith, aspirations, unity, and self-determination of every single Cuban. “Today is the Day.”

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