Before and right after the beginning of the Cuban Revolution, one man -and his ideas-changed 180 degrees all the plans I had for my life. Turned upside down all my dreams. Destroyed my family unity. Imposed his will. And became The Dictator (hence the word, because he certainly 'dictated' unquestionable edicts and laws and regulations) of my life and the lives of at the time 6 million Cubans.
It was that simple. And that devastating.
And ever since, the story of Life During the Revolution and Life in Exile became what would have been my well planned Life. Two separate chapters. Two well filled new books, that many years later encompass millions of experiences, anecdotes, painful moments, the passing of so many of my friends and relatives, the death of my parents --and so many tears of both pain and happiness. Two new lives that faced many new combats -- added baggage I did not need to carry when I was barely a young adolescent and it would have been great to have a happy youth.
Combats I call them, because I've had to fight so many new fears and there has been so much -yes, so much!--anxiety in my life. All this created by fear. Fear of prison and persecution in revolutionary Cuba. Fear of the unknown when shooting squads became the daily reality. And fears of the unknown when our mother took my brother and I into exile with $5 in her pocket and millions of questions ahead. Anxiety 101 for sure! And a terrible burden -to this day- in my life.
Thus, now -right at the moment when the passing of time was 'softening' my memories and I had become more benevolent regarding seeing a Cuban (from the island) Painting exhibit, or the Cuban Ballet, or talking wuth a more civil understanding to Cubans who still live in the island, etc- the murder of dissident Orlando Zapata, and moreover, seeing Raul Castro's nauseating statements regarding his death in a Cancun summit- have stopped me in my tracks. And once again I fully feel and understand why we all became exiles years ago --and how deep my disgust runs regarding the living hell that Cuba has become.
Raul Castro's dismissive and sarcastic comments regarding "one who died in a hunger strike" -and the attitude of tropical arrogance he displayed, including an accent speaking Spanish that I have always recognized as cruel and 'chusma'- struck me with such force that all my goodwill and my intentions to understand and even forgive, are gone.
Suddenly everything was back to Black or White and shades of Gray were gone!
The Cuban issue is that simple. There is a 51 year old cruel dictatorship in the island of the Castro brothers where Human Rights are ignored and no decent human being in the planet can deny this. And until people inside the island decide that life is not worth living in these circumstances -and the international community of nations stops excusing murder and persecution- nothing will change.
In the meantime, I have become a fighter again --my old self once again---shaking away the tiresome "ennui ", erasing the mantra of "I dont have strength anymore to fight Fidel Castro" that the passing of time had created in my spirit.
Somehow Orlando Zapata Tamayo's death has awaken in many of us the reasons why we became exiles and has re/ignited our old fires.