My Cuban heritage taught me to hate communism and love America
Fifty-two years ago, on Valentine’s Day, a three-year-old boy boarded a small plane with his older brother, older sister and mother. Not knowing why Dad was not with them, he embarked under his mother’s guidance and left behind a life he would barely remember.
This family was part of the quarter of a million Cubans who had been welcomed to America by the so-called “free flights” of President Lyndon B. Johnson. These flights in the late 1960s and early 1970s accepted a combination of Cuba’s lower and middle classes who had lost their jobs, livelihoods, family members, and rights to the Castro regime.
Arriving in America with little money, without a husband and three children, the young woman was determined to make her life and that of her children in America. This woman was willing to risk her life and the lives of her children just for the opportunity to succeed.
As she will tell you, the Cuban people have a grain of sand like no other. They are hardworking, loud, stubborn and passionate. She constantly remembers stories to her grandchildren about how hard it was to find her way in America and reminds them how grateful they should be to live in such a free country.
The protests currently taking place in the national capital remind him of the lack of freedom of expression in Cuba. She says she saw Fidel Castro’s firing squads lining up people on prime-time television as an example to others.
While Americans protest not only in the streets of our cities but in front of the nation’s capital and the White House without fear of retaliation or punishment, Cubans keep these images in their minds. When they try to explain to the world what is happening to them, the Cuban government restricts their access to the Internet. Indeed, the American dream is alive and well for all those who are not too privileged to already live here.
I have only been to Cuba once and I remember it very well. I remember the tour guide categorically giving up his ration book as he led us past the meat market. I can still hear the excitement in his voice about how lucky he was to have enough rice, beans and soap for his family for the month.
I can still see the empty shelves. There is no selection. No price variety. There’s one from each item if you’re lucky, and doubly lucky enough to afford it.
The woman I mentioned above has not yet visited her home country since leaving because she can’t stand seeing Cuba as it is now. She talks about her house with reverence and fond memories and knows that is not what she will find.
Fidel was supposed to be the savior. He was the man of the people for the people. Instead, food was rationed. Hospitals have emptied. People fled. Devalued money. The citizens starved and turned on each other. Corruption has spread like wildfire. The country remains stuck decades behind the rest of the world when it comes to technology. Freedom is just a pipe dream.
So what are the Cubans doing? They take to the streets waving American red, white and blue. Even an MSNBC opinion writer suggested that there is significance in Cubans seeing freedom as American.
As we protest here for greater government intervention through federalized electoral laws, free universities and control over big tech, Cubans of all ages take to the streets to demand the freedom we take for granted. . Americans are so isolated from the outside world and the younger generations are far too insensitive to the evil despotism of communism. Moral and spiritual decay comes with making government your god.
People under real oppression around the world know that freedom and liberty for all are the gold standard. Hardworking people understand that the chance to succeed with a little courage and a lot of time and energy is worth risking their lives to cross that 90 mile straight.
This is something the American Conservative Party used to understand. During the Cold War, one of the Reagan administration’s most effective strategies was the fervor with which President Ronald Reagan denounced Communism as not only economically but morally bankrupt.
Somewhere along the way, we forgot to keep spreading the message. Young people should care about communism in Cuba because it is communism in its purest and rawest form: failed, private and dangerous.
As a 20-year-old high school student, I’m unlikely to provide a more insightful or nuanced solution to this problem than those who are familiar with the subject, but I do know: what happened in Cuba can happen here, and it’s up to the next generation of Americans to find their American pride and stop it.
Some 32 years after getting on that plane, this little boy met my mother, brought me and my younger brother to life, started his own business, and sent his children to college. Some would call it an American dream. I call it heroic.
After making a living, my abuela now has three successful children, seven grandchildren in college or college graduates, and three great-grandchildren, all because she got on a plane looking for a chance to do something of itself. She is the hero who made my dreams possible.
My Cuban pride runs deep and I feel for the people, but even deeper is my American fervor for human freedom at home and abroad. If this generation does not quickly realize the Cuban people’s cries for what they already have in America, this nation may soon lose its place as the flag waved in protest for freedom.
I have spent my whole life hearing about the horrors and atrocities my grandmother escaped, and I will never forgive the Cuban regime for taking my grandfather from me, but if there is anything that these stories and experiences have taught me is that the greatest privilege that exists is dawning in the nation that everyone looks to for freedom and protection.
We quickly forget it, and God help us if we give it up voluntarily. If you have a prayer to say, say one for the Cuban people; and it wouldn’t hurt to pray that this generation would realize the magnitude of the situation.
Jasmine Campos is a Senior Triple Major in Political Science, Journalism and Humanities with Honors at Azusa Pacific University. Her work can be found in ZuMedia, The College Fix, Lone Conservative, and Broadband Breakfast.