The day that began the destruction of Cuba
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)
We got to the dining room and noticed that my dad was on the phone and my mom was seriously listening to his conversation. My 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 our eggs, toast and drinking our milk.
Mom came over in a few minutes and whispered: "Batista se fue!" (Batista left!)
No one understood that morning what it all meant. We certainly had no idea that a communist dictatorship was coming.
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 unkept promises.
We eventually moved to the US and this is now my adopted country. I am a very proud citizen of the US. My 3 sons were born here and one is proudly serving in the US Army.
However, it still hurts to see how much damage the communist dictatorship has done to Cuba and the people who stayed behind.
It hurts even more to see how the international left makes excuses for Castro or how little Americans know about pre-Castro Cuba.
Cuba became an independent country in 1902. It was a Spanish colony until 1898 or the Spanish American War.
It is interesting to divide Cuba's history two 50-something periods, before and after Castro.
Cuban-American author & historian Carlos Eire presents the story and it an amazing contrast:
- 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.
- Since 1959, Cuba has had no immigration.
- Since 1959, nearly two million Cubans have left the island (a figure larger than the entire population of Cuba at the time of independence).
- Since 1959, the population of the island has nearly doubled, despite a constant flow of emigration and despite the highest rate of abortion in the Western hemisphere, estimated to be equal to the number of live births.
- Since 1959, despite a growing population, Havana has seen virtually no new construction, and no expansion beyond its pre-Castro boundaries. The latest satellite photographs of Havana reveal few structures that were not already in place by 1958, and many empty spaces created by collapsed buildings.
- Since 1959, the existing infrastructure has deteriorated, and the city is now in ruins.
- During the era of Soviet dominance, very little new construction took place, and its quality was notoriously poor. Practically all new construction in Cuba since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 has been intended for tourists, not for Cubans. These new facilities-often isolated from the general populace - continue to be inaccessible to Cubans.
- Cuba is now one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere, and its people live largely cut off from the rest of the world, stuffed into inadequate housing.
Most of the buildings in Havana all tourists marvel at were built between 1902 and 1956, or, at the very latest, 1959. After that, the clock stopped. Havana is some sort of weird tropical Hiroshima, where a bomb was dropped and the hands on the clock were frozen at that exact moment The bomb was the Castro dynasty. And tourists love to gawk at the ruins, and the ragged desperate Cubans who inhabit them. Some them even say that they hope Havana never changes from its present state, simply because they care more about their warped neocolonial sensibilities than they do about Cubans.
Yeah. Fifty-Four years of devolution. "Vamos requetebien."
Yes, two 50 something periods, one of growth and prosperity & the other one of repression and destruction.
No one saw this coming that morning of 1959. My parents were actually optimistic in those early days. Like so many others, they changed and left the country.
We were the fortunate ones. We got to grow up in the US. Some were not so unfortunate. They had to stay in Cuba or saw their fathers executed or spend time in a political prison.
A sad anniversary for Cubans, and for truth and freedom. It turned out to be a terrible morning for the people of Cuba.