“Every single day citizens have their civil rights violated. Innocent people are in prisons festering — people no one seems to know about! Cuba is still run by a murderous regime. Talk about the need to fight terrorism — the Castro regime is composed of ruthless, terrorist leaders! And Barack Obama — for the sake of his legacy — wanted to ‘normalize’ relationships with them? Cuba is not a ‘normal’ government — you can’t normalize a relationship with a brutal dictator! The only one who benefited from Obama’s policies is the monstrous government.”
Such were the passionate words of my Cuban-born friend, Carlos, when I spoke with him this weekend about President Trump’s order to rescind most of President Obama’s Cuba policies.
Carlos was only 14 months old when his father, mother, two toddler brothers and grandfather boarded a plane for America on Christmas Day in 1960. They left under the guise of visiting a family member who lived in New Jersey with only the permitted $20 for the entire family. Although they held round-trip tickets in order to fool the government into believing they would soon return to Havana, this family — and so many like them — never returned.
But they did — and still do — look back.
Carlos’ father, Jose, is now 91 years old, and some 58 years later, he is still too fearful of the Castro regime to allow me to use his full name for this column. The memories of the brutality his friends and neighbors suffered are still too vivid. The hellish reality that life is for those who live in Cuba today is too real.
Jose is right: Cuba is still a boiling cauldron of brutal persecution. Nearly 10,000 Cuban “dissidents” have been arrested since 2016, and some 1,900 just since January 1st of this year. And every Sunday, “The Ladies in White” — moms, wives, sisters and daughters of political prisoners — dress in white clothes and peacefully pray and call for the release of political prisoners. These brave women and girls are regularly beaten and jailed by the government thugs. When was the last time you heard Barak Obama, Beyoncé, or Michael Moore — who just seem to love the Castro regime — talk about any of that?
Despite the darkness and continuing brutality, for the first time in 58 long years Jose feels hopeful for his former country and for the people left behind.
Jose, Carlos and their family are proud and thankful Americans who treasure their freedom and their Cuban heritage — and they have never forgotten those who enjoy neither. But Jose and Carlos now have a new hope for Cuba — and that hope lies in one man: President Trump.
“Cubans have the right to be free. They have the right to make something of themselves. And if it’s ever going to happen, it’s going to happen under Donald Trump,” Carlos said. “Finally, we have a president who realizes the human suffering. President Trump is a courageous man of truth and strength, and he has demonstrated that he truly cares about people and about freedom. Last week, President Trump showed the world that the United States should and can play a role in spreading freedom in our hemisphere, starting with the little island next door.”
Jose lives with the sad reality that six dark decades of communist horror strangled the very life out of his generation. So his prayers and hope are for the younger generations of his people who have never tasted freedom, who never knew the beauty of “The Pearl of the Caribbean,” as Cuba was once called.
As Jose remembers and cherishes the country he enjoyed and loved as a child and a successful young businessman, his thoughts also go to the future and to what he believes that Mr. Trump can help make a reality. It’s a dream that he and his son, Carlos, who never knew the Cuba of his forefathers, both hold close to their hearts: that all Cuban people, no matter where they reside, will know the joy and dignity that comes from being free.