A word about Cuba’s Fulgencio Batista (1901-1973)

We remember that Fulgencio Batista was born on January 16, 1901, or one year before Cuba became an independent nation in 1902.  His name is all over 20th century Cuban history. It’s also difficult to mention his name without getting a strong reaction. He died in exile in 1973.

I was born in the last decade of Batista’s Cuba. What was his legacy? Yes, he overthrew a president and corruption was a problem. No excuses. What about the rest of the story? Cuba was a young and vibrant country with hope and a future.  In other words, the island of Cuba attracted people rather than drive its citizens away looking for a future.

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. There were no Cubans packed in a raft arriving in Florida during Batista’s regime. One way or another, Cuba had room for all Cubans. There were disagreements and lots of shouting, but Cubans stayed on the island. Instinctively, everyone knew that there was a future in Cuba, no matter how passionate the disagreements were.

It is even more painful when you realize that pre-Castro Cuba attracted thousands of immigrants from all over the world.

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