I have just finished reading Carlos Frias 3rd installment in his five-part series describing his first visit to Cuba last month. Frias is a sports writer for the Palm Beach Post whose parents left Cuba many years ago. The story of the search for his roots is beautifully written and heart-felt. One anecdote got my attention because it’s almost verbatim the same one that Val posted here a couple of months ago. Writing about his aunt, who was a teacher in Cuba who lost her job in 1965 because she applied for an exit visa (but never left) Frias says:

Teaching was her life. When she saw the textbooks, the syllabus that she would have to teach, she registered to leave. One of her colleagues had been told to teach her kindergartners about religion. Close your eyes and pray for food, the teacher told them, and when they opened their eyes, of course, there was no food. The next day they were told to pray to Fidel for food; that afternoon, a shipment of rations were delivered to town. That is not the kind of teacher she would become.

Of course I believed Val when he posted the anecdote but this should serve as confirmation for those that think we exaggerate, because, of course, all Cubans exaggerate.

And this anecdote reminds me of another that I wanted to post about but forgot to. My father in law has a cousin named Amparo that is a nun. She was born in Cuba but has lived almost her entire life in Spain except when she was assigned to foreign countries by her order. In 1998 I met her for the first time in Rome when my wife Ana and I were there during our honeymoon. She arranged for us to sit up front along with the other Sposi Novella at the Pope’s audience which I will never forget.

Anyway Amparo is in town on vacation and the other night we got to talking about Cuba. You see, several years ago she was assigned by her order to go to Cuba where she lived and worked for 2 years. She told me a story about a parishioner that had a son. In Cuban schools they weigh and measure the children monthly. This particular parishioner’s son was not gaining weight so they alloted her some extra food. The following month the boy still had not gained weight. The boy’s mother explained that she had given the boy the extra food but that it was not enough. Then they asked her: “Don’t you have any family outside the country that could send you money to buy more food?” The parishioner responded: “I have a brother outside but when he left I did as I was intructed by the Revolution. I threw eggs at him, I called him a worm, I ostracized him. How can I now ask him for money?”

Of course the woman had lied about how she treated her brother and her relationship with him but she made a convincingly argument that was not lost on her audience. She pointed out the absurdity of the Cuban government and the castro regime.