My Parents’ Path to Freedom – Why the Cuba Embargo Stands for Democracy
My Parents’ Path to Freedom: Why the Cuba Embargo Stands for Democracy
Noelle Suarez-MuriasAugust 8, 2013 at 4:15 pm
My mother left Cuba in 1965 at 11 years old. She and her parents were
allowed to bring only three changes of clothes each and one or two pairs
of shoes. No money and nothing of value. Diamonds? Gold? Left behind. My
grandfather had a $20 bill in his pants pocket that was confiscated when
he was going through airport security. My mother had a doll with her,
and security guards ripped the head off, looking for anything that might
be hidden inside.
My father’s story is similar. He emigrated the same year at 16 years
old. His family left after waiting three years for the Mexican
government’s approval for a visa. The timing of his departure was
crucial, as it was just months before his 17th birthday. Once he turned
17, he’d be obligated to begin his mandatory service in the Cuban
military, after which it would be nearly impossible for him to leave
Both of my parents traveled with their families to Mexico, where they
waited for three months to receive clearance to enter the U.S. Both
families ended up in the Little Havana neighborhood of Miami, where they
Just years earlier, in 1953, brothers Fidel and Raul Castro, later
joined by their buddy Che Guevara, began their campaign to overthrow the
American-supported Batista regime, which culminated in January 1959. The
transition to communist rule was quick. Fidel nationalized industries
and small businesses, closed churches, and banned private schools.
Shortages quickly followed—ration cards got a person basics such as
rice, beans, and coffee, but meat had to be purchased off the black
market. Neighbors spied on each other, people disappeared, and many
never came back. Political dissenters were, and continue to be, silenced.
The struggle for freedom in Cuba remains very real. While Raul has
recently tried to “liberalize” the state, these actions are superficial.
Who cares if you are “allowed” to access the Internet when you can’t
afford a computer or to feed your family? And if by chance you can
afford a computer and pay the high price for Internet access, the
government watches you constantly.
Cuba continues to show stubbornness in accepting democratic principles.
It’s listed on the State Department’s list of state sponsors of
terrorism. It has shipped weapons to North Korea, ignoring United
Nations sanctions. It continues to practice indiscriminate arrests, such
as that of American reporter Alan Gross in 2009.
My parents’ experiences in the 1960s aren’t isolated events of
authoritarian leadership. Alan Gross’s arrest is just one recent example
of these same indiscretions. Raul’s blatant disregard for norms of the
international community proves that the embargo isn’t just something
“left over” from the Cold War. Because the Cuban government controls all
sectors of the economy, any trade would just pump money into the coffers
of the state and only serve to strengthen the Castro regime.
Until Raul allows democracy, freedom, and markets to grow, the U.S.
should not end the embargo. Doing so would be an offense to all of the
people who, like my parents, fled the Castro tyranny. The true source of
non-progress lies not with Washington but with the authoritarian regime
Source: “My Parents’ Path to Freedom: Why the Cuba Embargo Stands for