July 2, 1964 and the day we left in Cuba


My brother Joaquin, little sister Lidia and that’s me to the right.  It was our last picture in Cuba.  My brother and I were holding baseball gloves and our sister was playing with little puppies.

Our father died last December. He always had something wise to say about the day that we left Cuba.   It will be different without him this year.

July 2, 1964 was a long time ago but it is incredible how much I remember of that day.

Years later, I wrote about it in “Cubanos in Wisconsin“.

We stayed at a hotel the night before because our home had been closed by the authorities after the “inventario” or inventory.

In other words, they checked each and everyone of our household belongings to make sure that we had not moved anything between “el telegrama” or our authorization to leave and the actual departure date.

This is what what totalitarian regimes do!   They have no respect for people, specially those who disagree with them.

As I recall, it was a nice July morning in Cuba.

We took a taxi to the airport and ended up in Mexico that night.

Between eating breakfast in Havana and going to sleep in Mexico City, our plane’s landing gear did not open until the pilot made one last attempt to land, a Mexican reporter spoke to my dad about the situation in Cuba and we got a taste of tacos in Mexico.

It was one of the longest days of my life!

I will never forget this day. I can still see the look in my parents’ face when the plane left Cuba.

Most of all, I will miss my father today because he always had something to add to my memories of that fateful day that changed my life.