On January 1, 1959, I was a 6-year old boy waking up and rushing to the dining room for breakfast. (My brother was a year younger and ran with me that morning)
It seemed like another day, or another chance to eat and get ready for “Los Reyes Magos” coming in a few days. Back then, our parents would take us to a park where they had real camels and our favorite “reyes” were there to greet the children.
My brother and I got to the dining room and noticed that my dad was on the phone and my mom was seriously listening to his conversation. Our mom also had her eye on the TV news. My dad had our little sister on his lap as he went on and on and on the phone.
Mom pointed us to the dining table and we started eating toast and drinking our milk.
Then Mom came over and whispered: “Batista se fue!”
None of us kids understood that morning what it all meant. We certainly had no idea that a communist dictatorship was coming. My father told me later that he was most fearful of the “power vacuum” that Batista’s hasty departure had created.
Within months, Cuba began to change, i.e. the mass executions, the mock trials, the political prisons, the attacks on the press and the radicalization of the regime. Elections never came and Castro quickly started to blame the US to distract Cubans from all the promises that he never kept.
We eventually moved to the US and I’ve spent most of my life here.
However, it still hurts to see how much damage the communist dictatorship has done to Cuba and the people who stayed behind.
It’s hard for me to smile when I think of this day in Cuban history.