Sixty years since the beginning of an exodus that changed Cubans and Miami

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The director of the Office of Transmissions to Cuba (OCB) of the US Government, Tomás Regalado, during a press conference in Miami. EFE / Archive

The triumph of the revolution in Cuba 60 years ago not only radically changed the lives of the thousands of Cubans who have fled the island since then and settled in Miami, but transformed a provincial city into a thriving city with a Latin flavor. .

“The only positive effect that the Cuban revolution has had was that it changed the face of Miami forever, it turned it into a global city,” said former Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado, who directs Radio and TV Martí, media outlets for Cuba. from Florida as part of US policy towards the island.

That the revolution has had no benefits for Cuba and the world is a creed for the several generations of Cubans who live in the south of this state, including those born here.

Most of them have someone to compare with, since they keep relatives on the island who they help regularly, if they have not been able to bring them with them on this side of the Straits of Florida.

In addition, there is a minority, decimated by the passage of time, who fought with arms to end those who govern in Cuba since January 1, 1959 and has continued to resist Castroism along with the new generations of opponents of the revolution.

There will therefore be no celebrations for the sixtieth anniversary of the triumph of the revolution for these lands united by ties of blood and geographically close to Cuba, but far removed politically and economically.

Regalado is one of the more than 14,000 children of “Operation Peter Pan” (1961-1962), organized by the Catholic Church together with US authorities and the Cuban exile in Miami to prevent them from being indoctrinated after the triumph of the revolution.

The former mayor, whose father was imprisoned in Cuba for 22 years for political reasons, says that “the economic, social, political and diversity impact that the Cuban exile has brought to Miami has made this city a global brand.”

Another Peter Pan is Eduardo Padrón, president of the public university Miami Dade College (MDC), which has the largest number of students from all over the United States, which reflects a great diversity of origins, the same as the city, which it is not only Cuban, but fundamentally Latin American.

For Padrón, the revolution has been “an unjust historical accident for a country as laborious and demonstrated talent in all areas” as Cuba is.

“Long ordeal, so many generations frustrated under the ineffectiveness of a regime that does not trust its productive forces, a tragedy, waiting for the only plausible solution: freedom,” he tells Efe.

The “radical change” that brought his arrival to Miami highlights: “A new language, another society, that Miami drowsy, still without the Hispanic component, racism, not only against the African-American population but against us, the new ‘weirdos'”.

“Miami is proof of what my fellow countrymen are capable of when they work with freedom and justice,” Padrón stresses along the same lines as Barack Obama, then US president, said during his historic visit to Cuba in 2015.

It is estimated that in the first decade of Castroism more than 400,000 Cubans arrived in Miami, mostly from the middle or upper classes.

The city had in 1960 little more than 290,000 inhabitants and the metropolitan area almost 1.5 million. At present, there are almost half a million inhabitants of the center and 5.5 million the whole.

In 2013, the Cuban population in the United States was two million people, according to the Pew Center, and of those born on the island represented 57%.

Hugo Landa, the director of the Cuban affairs digital newspaper Cubanet, is what in Miami is known as a “marielito”.
“I arrived in Miami in April 1980, in the first days of Mariel’s exodus and that represented the biggest change possible in my life, only comparable to being born again,” Landa tells Efe.

The journalist, who was six years old in 1959, is “grateful for the great privilege of being able to escape that hell” and feels “very sad” because, in his eyes, Cuba has become “a very strange and depressing place” .

Model Alessandra García Lorido, daughter of Cuban actor Andy García, was born in the United States and the language in which she expresses is English, but that does not prevent her from identifying with the cause of the Cuban diaspora.

The young woman, who is the face of the English version of the Ni1 + campaign that has just been launched on YouTube and social networks, invites “all generations of Cubans wherever they are” to spread the message “not one more year of dictatorship “in Cuba and wearing black on January 1 and 2, 2019.

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