Barbie to return from Cuba soon, congressman to make announcement


The family and friends of Barbara Jimenez, a USF senior who has been stuck in Cuba since her near-fatal car accident Aug. 3, may have something to celebrate after today’s news conference. 

Though Jimenez is a U.S. citizen, she does not have health insurance. When she needed to be airlifted from Cuba, no company would agree for less than tens of thousands of dollars. 

Her sister, Caridad, said the Cuban hospital was of little help in finding a way to get her sister home. In fact, she added only when she returned stateside did people offer her advice and suggestions. 

“Communications proved difficult,” she said. “We were getting a lot of misinformation … I don’t know if it was out of fear of having us worry. Then we would get a call an hour later (saying) ‘They’re all in a coma.’” 

After Caridad arrived in Cuba and saw her sister’s condition, she was quoted a figure of $50,000 for airlifting the 22-year-old back. Needless to say, Caridad said their parents, “middle class, blue-collar people,” don’t have $50,000 to hand over to an air ambulance company.

In an effort to raise money for the service, Jimenez’s sorority, Lambda Theta Alpha, started a Facebook event and a GoFundMe page. Currently, the effort has raised over $16,000 from more than 400 donors.

A press conference will be held today in the Marshall Student Center at 12:30 p.m. regarding Jimenez’s situation. Congressman David Jolly is expected to be in attendance and share news with the Jimenez family.

According to the Tampa Metro Bugle, Jolly is slated to release news that “a Bay area air ambulance company has offered to bring Jimenez home free of charge.”