Monday, December 6, 2021

An Appreciative American Citizen

Photos Mershon Niesner

Many of us who were born and raised in the United States take our citizenship for granted, so it’s refreshing to hear the story of a new citizen who is glowing with appreciation.

Axel Vazquez grew up in Cuba. In 2014, at the age of forty-four, Axel, his wife, and young son immigrated to this country. Axel explains, “Growing up, I remember my grandfather saying, ‘Americans are the best. It’s a beautiful country.’ My family is anti-communist and they wanted me to come to American to have greater freedom.” Axel became an American citizen on February 9, 2021 after five years of residency.

Axel worked as a ceramic artisan in Cuba. His wages were not enough to adequately support his family, so he started his own small ceramics factory. His mother is an agriculture engineer, his father, who is now deceased, was in radio communications. “When you see photos of Cuba, you see beautiful, old cars driving down one or two wide streets flanked by fancy hotels. This isn’t the real Cuba. Most citizens can’t afford to buy anything on these streets or drive these cars. This is for tourists, not regular Cubans. Wages are very low in Cuba.”

Axel wanted to provide a better future for his family. “Prior to coming to America, my wife’s uncle lined up a job for my wife and me. My uncle said, ‘Hurry and come. Don’t worry, God is going to help you.’ He was correct. We got the jobs and our life in America is our dream come true.” 

Axel and his wife are maintenance workers for Spinnaker Cay Management Company, serving several condominiums in the area including Eagle Cay on Marco Island. 

The Vazquez family was able to legally come to America through the Cuban Adjustment Act of 1966. After Fidel Castro’s revolution, anti-communist Cubans received preferential immigration conditions. Like all immigrants, in order to become a citizen Axel learned the answers to one hundred citizenship questions. Ten questions out of the hundred were asked on his citizenship test. Axel’s wife, Yamila, hopes to also obtain her citizenship very soon. “We now own a home in Golden Gate where I hope to establish a small ceramics studio.”

Axel proudly holding up his Certificate of Citizenship.

As a citizen, Axel has the right to bring his mother to America. “My mother’s dream is to visit Paris. She’s brushing up on her French, which she learned as a schoolgirl. I hope to help her fulfill this dream.”

When asked about his dreams for the future, Axel replied, “I’ve realized my dream of becoming an American citizen. Now, besides taking my mother to Paris, I want to fly again. I flew glider planes in Cuba. I want to become a private pilot. But, first, I must perfect my English.”

Axel loves the residents of Eagle Cay Condominiums where he primarily works. “They are like family to me.” To show his appreciation to the people who treat him with such kindness and respect, Axel crafted a canon which sits on the property. The plaque reads, “Donated to Eagle Cay with appreciation from Axel Vazquez.”

At the end of our interview, Axel made this request. “Please tell your readers thank you. I want to thank the American people for giving me this opportunity. I love this democracy. It’s not perfect but I believe it’s the best in the world.”

Seeing America through the eyes of someone who has lived under communism is like seeing it through a clearer lens.



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