My father was an ardent anti-Fidelista.
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.