In Cuba the week of Kennedy, Ruby, and Oswald
By late 1963, we were waiting for "el telegrama" to leave Cuba. It was routine for Cubans to announce their decision to leave the country and then be forced to wait for a departure date. It was generally an opportunity for the regime to mock you, for thugs to scream in front of your home and call you traitors, and for your dad to be squeezed out of any way of making a living. My father's employer, a Cuban-owned bank, had been expropriated, so that put him in an even more difficult position.
Our resources were limited, and my parents kept having their differences with the local CDR, or the so-called "Comité de la Defensa de la Revolución," the local neighborhood spy gang that would watch your every move like a hawk. It was not a fun time for my parents and many other Cubans on the island.
In the middle of this, I recall President Kennedy's assassination and then the shooting of Lee Harvey Oswald.
During this past week in 1963, millions of people in the U.S. watched Jack Ruby, a Dallas businessman, shoot Lee Harvey Oswald, the alleged killer of President Kennedy. Oswald died shortly after.
Down in Cuba, my father learned about it from the Spanish service of The Voice of America. I remember my father updating my mother, and her shocked face said it all.
As my father recalled, they weren't sure what would happen to Cuba. Would the new President Johnson invade Cuba and blame the assassination on Castro? Would Castro go into panic mode and shut down departures from the island? Would more men be arrested, as happened after the Bay of Pigs or even the Missile Crisis?
Ruby's action also opened the door to a ton of conspiracy theories about the president's assassination.
For the record, I believe that Oswald shot President Kennedy on his own. I came to that conclusion after reading Gerald Posner's Case Closed in the 1990s.
Ruby died of cancer in 1967. As far as we know, Ruby never changed his story about why he killed Oswald. Apparently, Ruby did not want Jackie Kennedy to come to a trial. He took that explanation to his grave.
Down in Cuba, it was a week of extra tension for all of us stuck down there.
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