News and views from the award-winning author of the novels The Skinny Years, America Libre, House Divided and Pancho Land

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Castro made Cuban-Americans exiles, not immigrants

There's one thing most people in the U.S. don't realize about Cuban-Americans. We are primarily exiles rather than immigrants. Many of us left, not for a better life, but to have a life at all. All the same, most Cuban-Americans now probably consider themselves fortunate that they were forced to leave. I certainly do. 

Oddly, my family did not come here fleeing Castro. On the contrary, my father was involved in Havana's urban underground trying to overthrow Castro's brutal and corrupt predecessor, Fulgencio Batista. Like Castro, Batista trampled human rights. His secret police kidnapped, tortured and at times executed political opponents. That's what led my mom to divorce my father and come here out of fear for her safety and mine in 1956. My mother also disdained the socialist ideology her husband had adopted.  

We did not lose property to Castro or had relatives jailed or executed after the revolution in 1959. Still, I feel a deep empathy for my fellow Cubans who did. Those kind of wounds do not heal easily. I can understand why they'd want to dance in the streets right now. But I don’t feel any joy knowing Castro is dead. Just relief... and hope.  

Maybe this time around we can have an “evolution” rather than a revolution in Cuba. Let’s liberate the Cuban people with Big Macs instead of bullets. Getting rid of the embargo is a first step. We traded bullets with China and Vietnam. Today we trade goods. 

Why should Cuba be any different?

No comments: