In early 2022, he joined thousands of Cubans whose migration has amounted to the largest exodus in the Caribbean nation’s history.
Gonzalez, a 34-year-old barber, said he could no longer bear the hardships of a country going through its worst economic crisis since the 1990s, or the communist regime he had never embraced.
In Cuba, “you lose hope,” he told AFP from Miami, Florida, which he reached after a weeks-long odyssey across multiple countries.
That hopelessness, shared by many young people in Cuba, has pushed emigration to the United States to the highest levels on record.
In the year from December 2021 to 2022, border authorities recorded more than 227,000 instances of Cubans illegally entering US territory.
That figure exceeds those of two previous mass departures: the Mariel boatlift, when 125,000 Cubans left for the United States in 1980, and the 1994 departure of 34,000 people to US shores within a month, said Jorge Duany, a Cuba expert at Florida International University.