The (Grand Junction, Colo.) Daily Sentinel this morning has the story of world-class gymnast Charlie Tamayo, who defected from Cuba to the United States in 2003.
He’s another Cuban who has done good in America, and would love to represent his new country at the Olympics, if given the chance. His case has gotten jammed somewhere in the immigration court system, and unless Congress intervenes, he probably will not be able to attend the Summer Games this year in Beijing.
Still, he is grateful to be here.
Enjoying his new freedom, Tamayo said he’s still dogged by worries about the family he left behind, his mother and two brothers.
He had hoped to win his mother a house with his World Cup gold medal, but he was punished instead for his political views, he said.
“I started to see how hard my mother had to work to try and provide a decent life for my brothers and me,” he wrote. “It seemed as though no matter how hard I worked, there was nothing I could do to help her.”
He speaks occasionally with his family by telephone, but their conversations are limited because they fear that state officials are listening in, he said.
“I want a house for my mother,” he said. “That’s all.”
It wasn’t until he was in the United States that he fully understood how it was that Fidel Castro ran his native country, he said.
“It was shocking when I finally realized the truth about the history of my country,” he said.
Read the whole story, written by a former colleague of mine, Gary Harmon, here.