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Saul Martinez
Professor Mary Gifford
English 114B
The Pursuit of Freedom
In Finding Mañana by Mirta Ojito we learned about two extraordinary men who change
Cuba in the 1980‟s Ernesto Pinto and Hector Sanyustiz. What impacted these men to make a
difference in Cuba, was it there age, ideology, or how they were raise. This two men lived
completely different lives but little did they know that their lives would soon meet and change
the lives of thousands of Cubans.
Ernesto Pinto was born in Germany in 1964, right after World War II, Pinto‟s earliest
memories were of playing in the rubble in Munich. His father also named Ernesto Pinto moved
his family to the jungles of Peru in Lima. Ernesto Pinto grew up to despised what the Americans
had to do to win the war, he especially distrusted anyone who wore a military uniform. Ernesto
Pinto viewed diplomacy as the only way to end conflicts without having to bomb entire cities.
Ernesto Pinto became the ambassador of Peru and lived in Cuba in a poorly secured embassy
with his wife and kids. Ernesto told the Cuban army that he needed more security but he was
highly ignored. Ernesto didn‟t know it yet but something big was going to happen in his embassy
that would change Cuba.
Hector Sanyustiz was born on September 27, 1949 in La Torcasa, a small town in Cuba.
Sanyustiz was born in a rural area; where he climbed on trees, rode horses, milked cows, and
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slaughter pigs. Like any good parents hectors parent‟s decided that their children would be better
in the city and moved to Jesus Del Monte a poor barrio of Havana. It was hard for Sanyustiz to
adapt to this new life style, he dislike wearing uniforms and he especially dislike going to school.
Sanyustiz soon dropped out of school and began doing odd jobs like selling newspaper, shining
shoes, running errands for prostitutes, and caring water for old ladies. Sanyustiz enjoyed the
freedom that he had but in January 1959 Castro made his entrance into Havana. Sanyustiz was
told that the revolution was meant for people like him, poor misguided, but all that hector saw
was his freedom slowing going away.
On April 1
Sanyustiz knew that it would be the last day they can possibly seek asylum,
so he set up a plan to break into the embassy. Sanyustiz devise a plan in which with the help of
his friends Radames Gomez and Raul Diaz Molina would crash a bus into the Peruvian embassy
and would run inside before getting shot at. Sanyustiz took the wheel of the bus and ordered for
the people in the bus to lie down, he knew that the guards would aim to kill him. Sanyustiz
pressed the gas and quickly reach the front of the embassy but hector had not calculated two
things: how wide the trees was and how fast the guard could run. Sanyustiz felt the tree trunk
crash on the side of the bus and the metal of the bus pressing against his left leg while guard
where shooting at him. He pressed on the gas and decided to run over the guards, when the bus
finally came to a halt more than a third was inside the embassy. Hector left leg hurt but he knew
he was on the other side, the safe side. Sanyustiz didn‟t know it yet but he had started something
big in Cuba. While attacking the Peruvian embassy one of the guard was killed, which infuriated
Castro and caused him to act without thinking and allowed anyone wanting asylum to go to the
Peruvian embassy. Castro miscalculated the people that would seek asylum he believe that no
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more than few hundred people would seek asylum but thousands showed up at the front yard of
the Peruvian embassy. In a matter of hours Sanyustiz was able to liberate thousands of Cubans.
Ernesto Pinto believed in diplomacy not war, he knew that he would have to find a way
to get the Cuban people out of the country safely. In a matter of moments all eyes were on the
Peruvian embassy to see what actions both the Cuban government and Peruvian government
would take? Pinto knew that violence would not solve the problem, he grew up in a country torn
by war and didn‟t want history to repeat itself so when he got into Castro limo to talk about the
situation he took out his revolver. Pinto was making a statement by saying he is a man of peace
but “Castro revealed his own weapon, as if indicating that Pinto should keep his” (Mirta 106-
107) as a diplomat Pinto went unarmed. Castro handed Pinto a paper, which if signed would
allowed Cuban troops to go inside the Peruvian embassy and get rid of the people seeking
asylum, but Pinto refuse even to touch it fearing for the lives that were relying on him. Pinto
negotiated with Castro telling him “I‟m willing to negotiate in whatever terms you want, except
death. My methods are peaceful. I‟m a diplomat, not a revolutionary” (Ojito 108), by telling
Castro that he was not a revolutionary he was telling Castro he was not on his side. Pinto was
risking his live and his family and he knew it. Castro had control of the whole island and made
his point to Pinto by saying “We know you are worried about … your children... we also know
that your children are not here anymore. We know where they are and that they are safe” (Ojito
109). Pinto at that moment knew what kind of power Castro had but knew that if he didn‟t
continue trying to negotiate with Castro then thousands of people would suffer Castro‟s wrath.
Revolutionary is defined as a person who works for or engages in political revolution.
Sanyustiz to me is revolutionary, he started something that cause people to want to change their
lives and go against the government. Sanyustiz was looking for his freedom that he lost at a
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young age and without knowing became a revolutionary. Sanyustiz did what no other person
would do and go against Castro. In Communist Cuba Castro is the leader, the commander in
chief, nothing gets done without his approval. Cuba is so strict that you can go to jail for not
having a job, they were called undesirables. Sanyustiz being an undesirable knew that there was
no life for him in Cuba and decided to leave no matter the consequences. Sanyustiz knew that
anybody wanting to leave Cuba would lose his or her job and the government would no longer
help them, so in case his plan didn‟t work he told his wife to stay in Cuba he would come back
for her with a visa. Sanyustiz sacrifice himself for the better good of his family even though he
knew he would be sent to prison or executed if capture. When asked by the Miami Herald if it
was worth it Sanyustiz answered „”Of course it was worth it,'' he said. ``I found peace. All I ever
wanted was to live in peace, to work and earn a salary that would allow me to live decently. That
wasn't possible in Cuba‟ (Santiago). Even though know of this would have started without
Hector Sanyustiz, the actions that Ernesto Pinto took is what really caused people to ask for
asylum. Pinto could have easily signed the paper that allowed the Cuban army to handle the
people in the embassy, but instead he fought for what was right, for justice even though his
family was threaten by Castro himself. It takes a special man to fight against a dictator away
from his land willing to put both the Peruvian and Cuban government to go to war. This two
men were completely opposite from each other one a politician and the other a Fugitive and both
set 125,000 people free from Cuba. Hector Sanyustiz seek freedom and Ernesto helped him and
thousands more get it.
This two men lived completely different lives but little did they know that their lives
would soon meet and change the lives of thousands of Cubans. We take for granted the freedom
that we have here in the United States when there are thousands people wishing they could have
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the freedom we have. The pursuit of happiness led Sanyustiz to break into the Peruvian embassy
and risk his own life. Ernesto Pinto didn‟t think that people had to die to have freedom, he put
himself and his family in danger in order to protect people who broke into his home. The
selflessness of these two men gave thousands of families‟ freedom that they deserve and was
taken from them from an evil greedy man. It doesn‟t matter if you are an important man or just
an ordinary one anyone can make a difference.

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Work Citied Page
Ojito, Mirta . inding Maana: Memoir of a Cuban Exodus. New ork: Penguin, 200.
Santiago, Fabiola, ed. "The Cuban Who Sparked the Exodus Breaks His Silence." Miami Herald
[Miami] 6 Sept. 1998: Web. <>.