July 2, 1964: The day we left Cuba

It was on this day in 1964 that my dad, mom, and the three kids woke up in Cuba knowing that things would never be the same.  My mom had talked to us the night before and told us to be strong and stick together as one family. 

Nobody said a lot that morning. My parents had decided to leave after the Cuban Missile Crisis and the “communist radicalization” of Cuba. They did not want us to attend government schools where kids were taught communist ideas and history was rewritten to justify “la revolución.” 

My parents knew that this day would come, but it was still a bit hard for them to take. Cuba was all that they knew. They were born there and never expected to leave their country to pursue a better life anywhere else.   

We got to the airport knowing that we’d be harassed by Castro’s thugs. It was customary for these government workers to harass “los gusanos” (or “worms” as we were called). The idea was to pick a fight and then delay your departure. 

The five of us sat at the airport fearing the personal searches. This is where the men and women were separated and “searched” to make sure that you weren’t taking jewelry or anything of value beyond clothes. My parents had left their wedding rings with my aunt so they wore plain rings just in case some government thug decided to take it. 

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