Meet Charlie Tamayo

Charlie Tamayo (Photo by Dean Humphrey, The (Grand Junction, Colo.) Daily Sentinel)

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.

3 thoughts on “Meet Charlie Tamayo”

  1. What an amazing story of courage! This man is a wonderful representative of what Cuban-Americans contribute to this country, as opposed to the typical bigoted anti-immigration sentiment. Thanks for sharing it.

  2. Great story. Good to have him as some sort of close neighbor… well at least he is in Colorado.
    Anyway, I gave him my two cents writing to both US Senators from Colorado and really like the fact that The Grand Junction Sentinel chose his story to make the profile.
    But there is something that still no me cuadra: why using the term defectors? Big and bold, headline and everything… I just don’t get it.
    What is it with always using the same label that Barbatruco uses to mark us as if we were his own property. I am no man’s property. I am no defector; I am freedom seeking human being and I didn’t left my homeland for the sake of, let’s say, ” traveling”.
    Like most of us here in the US, I did it because it was either that or end up in jail for speaking my mind.
    I wonder what the heck does my fellow journalists know about defection to be using it that much… unless, well, they want to be perceived as working for Castro, Inc (or they already are). I don’t know… I just don’t get, and honestly, it really pissed me off to be called like that.

Comments are closed.