Rafael Perez was born in 1968 in Havana, Cuba. He grew up in Caibarién. Influenced by family members who worked in health care, he went to medical school at Instituto Superior de Ciencias Medicas de Villa Clara and then worked for two years in social service work at a nursing home. With little economic opportunity available in Cuba, in 1994, he fled by boat to Florida and then settled with family members in New Jersey. He describes starting over in the United States and the support of the Cuban-American community in New Jersey. He continued his education in the health care profession, while working as a critical care technician. He has spent his career as a hospital cardiovascular technologist. In the interview, he discusses the effects of the pandemic and compares and contrasts living in America to life in Cuba.
This oral history interview was conducted as a part of the Latino New Jersey History Project, directed by Dr. Lilia Fernandez.