Happy Thanksgiving

Carlos & Tony arrive in Bloomington IL 1963
Tres Fotutos and his taller brother arrive in Bloomington, Illinois, 1 September 1963. (Haircuts courtesy of the Miami Barber College)

I thank God and my parents several times each and every day for my escape from Castrogonia.

And I thank the generous country that took me in.

With nearly 20% of Cubans living in exile, it’s highly likely that many of them feel the same way.

Today — a feast my mom used to call San Gibin — is a very special day indeed for all of us who imitated the Pilgrims and started a new life in a place where we could live freely.

Whether we left by boat or airplane or raft, alone or with family, in childhood or adulthood, chances are we all remember that day very clearly.

And chances are we are thankful for our escape.

As the Castronoid poster below reminds us:  most of us were not welcome in our own native land.  And it wasn’t just the government that made life intolerable for us.  Our own hate-filled neighbors and fellow Cubans gladly and eagerly chased us out.

For those who are unfamiliar with the Castellano dialect:  the poster says that dissenters are worms (“gusanos”) who need to be boiled to death in order to purify Cuba.  The last sentence says: “The [Cuban] people wholeheartedly agree with this prophylactic measure.” (Go HERE for a larger image)

Fleeing was the wisest thing to do.  Fleeing remains the only hope any Cuban who is not an oligarch can have for a decent life.

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5 thoughts on “Happy Thanksgiving”

  1. No, it wasn’t just the government; that was just the obvious tip of the iceberg. It most certainly wasn’t just Fidel and a handful of others. There are such men in every country at any given time, but most of them don’t get far because they never get sufficient popular support. A few rotten apples cannot radically alter and eventually destroy a a whole country, society and way of life on their own. That is the real tragedy and real shame of what happened in Cuba, that evil was accepted and enabled by enough Cubans to prevail.

    But yes, those who escaped should indeed be grateful. I am always mindful of the price my parents paid to save their children, which was the only reason they left–not because they wanted to, but because they had to. That is very different from emigrating to make more money and have better and more material things, which may be legitimate, but it is much less of a sacrifice. I am grateful I was taken out of that hellhole in time, but I will always regret what it cost my parents, because there is no way to compensate fully for that, and those responsible never even pretended to be sorry, much less atoned for what they did.

    Still, Cuban exiles, at least the real ones, not only escaped to freedom and decent, dignified lives but largely triumphed over all sorts of obstacles and adversity to show what Cubans could do, which stands in stark contrast to the miserable conditions on the island. The fact that this is routinely and deliberately overlooked by the usual suspects does not alter the reality of the situation–“by their fruits ye shall know them,” and that island is awash in putrefaction and regressive decay, the worst of which is not of the material kind.

  2. I thank my lucky star everyday! I hate that “no es facil”, crap I hear from the new Cubans. No brother mas duro es vivir Cuba!! I want to send their asses back.

  3. Now at this Thanksgiving time it is a perfect time to reread Learning to Die in Miami. If you haven’t read it yet, go get a copy and read it.

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