This week we had the pleasure of sharing a summer barbecue with a refugee from Cuba. Our dinner conversation was starkly different than most.
This refugee came to the United States as a young boy in the early 1960s. His family was more fortunate than most as they were able to bring a suitcase and $100 when they fled Castro's newly formed revolutionary paradise.
Our dinner consisted of all-American fare: hamburgers, potato salad, watermelon and fresh ears of sweet corn. This is a menu shared with family and friends nationwide, while celebrating the birth of our beloved America on the Fourth of July.
We began with a simple discussion about our country and the direction it has taken since Barack Obama came to power. We shared the usual complaints about the sour economy and liberal social engineering emanating from the rulers in Washington.
But then he said it. The sentence came naturally. I assume it was unplanned. But it carried the weight of a freight train.
"You know when Castro took power, none of us knew he was a Communist."
We sat stunned. He continued, "Yes, we all thought he was a patriot, a nationalist. Before the revolution he didn't sound like a radical."
The comparison at this point was easy, and I interjected, "You mean just like Barack Obama?"
He responded, "Yes, just like Barack Obama."
He continued, "We were all shocked as the government just continued to grab more power. First they said the revolution is over, so please turn in your guns. We all complied."
"I remember my uncle saying after it started, 'Castro will only nationalize some of the big industries, he will never come and take our family hardware store.' But that is exactly what happened, Castro started with the sugar mills and the large industries, but they eventually came and knocked on the door of our family hardware store. My family had run this store for generations. They said we now own the hardware store, you work for us. And that nice, large four-bedroom home you own, it is now our property also, and you can move yourself and five children into two rooms of the house because others are moving in with you."
The lesson learned from this discussion is a lesson most Americans refuse to hear. Political leaders can lie about their agenda and once in office they can take totally unexpected turns.
If you had asked us three years ago if we thought General Motors would be nationalized, we would have never believed it. We could never contemplate a country where the rule of law, the most fundamental building block of a justice society would be evaporating just like it did in Castro's Cuba in the early 1960s.