Cuba became an independent country in 1902. You can divide the island’s history into two periods: the pre-Castro years and the current regime’s period in power since 1959.
I was born in the last decade of pre-Castro Cuba. My story is so typical of the other kids born in the 1950s. We were the grandchildren of immigrants from Spain or elsewhere. Our ancestors came to Cuba because it was a prosperous island, an attractive place for Spaniards seeking a better life, for Jewish refugees from Europe, hard working Asians and others.
It is really sad to watch Cuba today. The young escape and look for a better life, preferably in the US. The old get stuck behind.
It is even more painful when you realize that pre-Castro Cuba attracted thousands of immigrants from all over the world, as our friend Dr Carlos Eire wrote:
• Between 1900 and 1930, the first three decades of Cuban independence, about one million immigrants flooded into the island, mostly European, and mostly northern Spaniards.
This population tsunami also included Asians, Levantines, and Jews.
These immigrants doubled the population of the island and changed its complexion, literally.
Tens of thousands of immigrants continued to flow into Cuba every year after that, up to 1958.
Immigration from the U.S. was comparatively slight, but in 1958 there were more Americans living in Cuba than Cubans in the U.S.A.
Emigration from Cuba was minimal during this half century.
• Rates of immigration as high as this and of emigration as low require a robust and growing economy, and a considerable degree of political stability.
To wither is to ose the freshness of youth. Cuba is indeed withering today.