My mother has told me that he never trusted Fidel Castro. He did not celebrate as he overthrew the Batista regime. He always felt that his ascent to power would lead to no good. And this was before Fidel came out as a Communist. (If you’re not hip to Cuban history, Fidel didn’t come out as a Communist until 1961, and was even tacitly supported by the US in his overthrow of Batista, whose regime was no longer tenable.)
And after Fidel began turning Cuba into a one-party state, things got worse for my father. He was firmly ensconced in the middle class. He owned his own barber shop. He was a member of the petit bourgeoisie. And Fidel nationalized everything. Dad lost his shop. Friends were arrested.
My family left Cuba as soon as it could. And my dad always longed for it. But ill-health and a hatred of the Communists always prevented him from going back to visit. I remember that one of the happiest times of his life was when his brother came to New York for a month. Suddenly the years and the distance vanished, and they could pretend to be taking a cafecito at a corner bar.
I don’t know how my dad would have reacted to President Obama’s initiation of normalization of relations with Cuba. His pain may have been too deep. Sometimes the past is not past, but a living gash in your soul.
I am his son, but I cannot speak for him. I would like to think that if there is an afterlife, his pain has left him, and he has granted his blessing.
I can only speak for myself. And as a son who inherited his distaste of the caudillo Fidel, I can say this: the isolation of Cuba has only isolated us.
President Barack Obama addresses an audience of armed forces at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, New Jersey. President Obama thanked the troops for their service and marked the end of the combat mission in Afghanistan. ahead of the upcoming holidays
President Barack Obama returns a salute as he steps off Marine One helicopter upon his return on the South Lawn of the White House
First Lady Michelle Obama reads “Twas the night before Christmas” to patients, families, and staff at Children’s National Health System in Washington
President Barack Obama delivers remarks during a meeting of The President’s Export Council in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, DC. Composed of Obama administration officials, elected leaders and executives from the private sector, the council is an advisory committee on international trade
President Barack Obama speaks during a meeting with the President’s Export Council. President Obama expressed caution on Thursday about the possibility of the United States adding more sanctions against Russia for its incursion into Ukraine because it could cause divide Washington and Europe. Also pictured are Boeing President and Chief Executive Jim McNerney and Xerox Chairman and Chief Executive Ursula Burns
President Barack Obama meets with the President’s Export Council. The Export Council advises the president on policies and programs that affect trade performance and promote export expansion. Back row, from left are Jeff Zients, Assistant to the President for Economic Policy and Director of the National Economic Council, Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, Boeing Chairman, President and CEO Jim McNerney
The President’s Export Council Chair and Boeing Chairman, President and CEO Jim McNerney listens to President Barack Obama