It saddens me to realize that the Castro’s tactic of “divide and conquer” is alive and well. I was nine years old on January 1, 1959. I saw people take to the streets in celebration. As a matter of fact I rode in a truck full of people shouting “Viva Fidel.” As time progressed I also saw people ransacking the homes of Batista’s people who had left the country. For weeks as I walked to my piano lessons, I would see the debris outside one of the homes – everything piled up including a smashed TV set that somehow has been engraved in my memory.
My father was very excited about the changes. He was very much against Batista. My mother not so much. Although she was definitely not “Batistiana”, she had read enough about Fidel Castro’s past to be weary. Despite his enthusiasm for the revolution, my father was outraged when a mob gathered in front of the house across the street where the parents and sisters of a Batista representative lived. Although the representative and his brother had fled on January 1, his wife and children had sought refuge at his parents’ house. So an elderly couple, two single women, a mother with her two year daughter and a one month old baby boy were inside the house with all the lights out while the mob banged at their door ready to ransack their home.
I am proud to say that my father with the help of our next door neighbor, a very strong Castro supporter, confronted that mob. My father was well respected in the community and was able to convince the mob that their actions were cruel and unnecessary. The mob moved on to their next target.
I saw families torn apart. Property taken from people that had worked hard for what they had. I witnessed hatred and envy ooze from the most unlikely people. I was there at the time of the Bay of Pigs invasion when men, women and youth were imprisoned if they had the slightest anti-revolution inclination. In my hometown they were held at the stadium and abandoned farms, with no provisions of food or bedding. People had given up their guns with Castro’s convenient motto “Armas para que?” (Arms, whatever for?).
I could go on and on. But what frightens me is the division among Cubans today. I belong to the group that is now considered “nostalgic for Batista’s Cuba” or cowards who just let Cuba go. We have the “Marielitos”, the “balseros” and those who have come here in order to be able to provide for their families that are still in Cuba and God only knows how much more fragmented we are.
I have spent most of my life in the United States. Even if things changed I would not go back to Cuba to live. It is no longer my country and most likely I would not be welcomed there. But I do wish for a prosperous and peaceful Cuba for those who are there. It is in God’s hands and through him everything is possible.