Inspired by Ybor uncle, actor calls for protest in Cuba
TAMPA — A former anti-Castro militant turned Hollywood actor with family ties to Ybor City has launched a social media campaign that’s drawing international attention with its call for a moment of civil disobedience in Cuba to protest socialism.
Orestes Matacena has over 30 credits to his name, most notably as Jim Carey’s foil in 1994’s “The Mask.”
The 72-year-old entertainment veteran lives in Los Angeles so he wouldn’t expect people in Tampa to recognize him. He’s less forgiving of those who have never heard of his uncle, Orestes Ferrara.
“He is a historic figure,” Matacena said. “And he was an exceptional man. Everyone should know him.”
Ferrara has a historic marker in his honor on the corner of Seventh Avenue and 17th Street in Ybor City, where he gave a speech in 1896 that rallied many local Cubans to return to their native country and take up arms in its War of Independence against Spain.
Ferrara, an Italian native with no ancestral link to the island nation, later fought in the war.
Matacena, a Cuban native, first followed in his uncle’s footsteps as part of an underground militia in the 1960s that sought to overthrow Fidel Castro.
Today, he hopes to push Ferrara’s legacy forward by inspiring others to fight socialism in Cuba.
Matacena launched his social media campaign in February. He is asking any Cuban citizen dissatisfied with the government to take to the streets April 1 at noon and make their feelings known via peaceful means.
“It is time for the people of Cuba to demand change,” he said, “They deserve better.”
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