An 80-year-old Dutch retiree, whose all family members helps him in his cause, has become a great friend of Cuba. Martin Hoffman is absolute solidarity.
Along with other compatriots he is part of the solidarity group Cuba Care, of which he is the coordinator. In times when the caribbean island has to face many enemies, it is comforting to find people like Hoffman, whose sole purpose is to hold hands.
Hoffman, who was born in Amsterdam in 1938 and currently lives in the city of Lemmer, dedicated himself for a long time to selling wedding rings in a company, until he took refuge in retirement. His childhood was affected by the consequences of the Second World War, in a homeland occupied by Germans.
On that period, of which the memories remain, he said: "My parents were pharmacists in Holland. With my mother and my brothers we went to live in an orphanage, like many families, during and after the Second World War. I was a child when that war happened, I was seven years old when it ended. He listened many stories about murders and basic needs, like the lack of food. I remember the Nazi soldiers, who killed people, treated them like animals, mainly Jewish. "
When did you meet Cuba and Holguin?
"In 1998, I traveled to Cuba as a tourist, along with my daughter Martine, specifically Holguin. I found friendship and sincerity, much joy in the people, despite the economic problems of the nineties. After that stay, I've visited between 45 or 46 times this province. I really like the City of Parks and its people.
"Here I focused my efforts on helping Optics (he has brought more than 100, 000 glasses) and to support homeless children's center, in addition to the Lenin Hospital, the Pediatric hospital and the Blood Bank. Specifically to "Lenin", I donated artificial kidneys and wheelchairs, and to the Pediatric, Doppler ultrasounds. I also managed to get hearing aids for a deaf children school. "
In what else has your solidary work consisted?
"I have remained linked to solidarity organizations with Cuba, in the Netherlands. I have shown my support and friendship to the Cuban people for more than two decades, in the fight against the Blockade and the media campaigns. I have always been received in the province, at the ICAP headquarters to exchange solidarity issues and update on the actions of Cuba Care. "
How much of our Island has impressed you?
"It strikes me that Cuban children all wear uniforms, so there are no distinctions, something I have seen in other parts of the world, where they can even be marginalized. I am surprised by the respect that students have for their teachers. The health system here, free of charge, is one of the best in the world, but it needs better infrastructure and supplies, aspects that have been hit hard by the US blockade. "
You have focused on giving support to children without filial protection ...
"Children who live in homes for infants without filial protection open my heart. And I am amazed by the love with which the workers of these centers provide care to them, with patience and tenderness. I did not have that happiness in the orphanage where I lived in Holland, where the treatment was different. The Government of Cuba makes a great effort to give special attention to these children, in which I see myself.
"Since my first meeting with them, until now, many years have passed, and they are already men and women in some cases, they are good people. I brought my three grandchildren to the children's center and they also became sensitive with the boys. My grandchildren want to continue the help through Cuba Care, they have also fallen in love with Cuba. "
Have you found here your second home?
"I see points of contact between our hard work to gain land at sea in the Netherlands and the resistance of the Cuban people, both countries have had to grow at certain times. Both are small and have few inhabitants, but consistents.”
"When the blockade ends, Cuba will be able to unleash economic and commercial pressures. There will be more prosperity, that is what I want for my second homeland. Here I feel part of a great family. The Cubans share everything. It is inherent to their personalities, unique in the world. "