Arturo Sandoval’s Journey From Cuba to the White House

Grammy-Award winning jazz musician Arturo Sandoval will receive the nation’s highest civilian award next week, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.


The Cuban émigré spoke to Fusion’s Jorge Ramos about getting the award from a president with a different political affiliation than his own, and his immigrant experience.

Here’s a transcript of their exchange:

Jorge Ramos: You're going to be getting the Presidential Medal of Freedom, however you're not a Democrat, you're Republican.

Arturo Sandoval: I am described that—by heart I would love to not be associated with any political parties to be honest.

JR: So you're not registered to any—

AS: You have to. You have to get A or B. But my party is the one that loves freedom, respects human rights, and really, the party who wants the best for the United States.

JR: You've said beautiful things about the United States. I am also an immigrant and I am so grateful to this country because it gave me fantastic opportunities. Had I stayed in my country, it would have been a different story. You've said that you don't have enough words in English to express your gratitude to this country.

AS: That's very true because I remembered so many things that happened to me in my homeland, so many offenses, and so many things like lack of respect and appreciation. So many things happened in my life there, man, that it’s bad memories. And since I get to this country, the only thing I always feel is a lot of demonstration of respect, admiration in what I do, and that made me feel so happy and grateful to God number one. And number two, because everybody can go to my concerts and they show up and that makes you feel very special.