“Birth of Jesus with Visiting Magi” by Heinrich Hofmann, circa 1900. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)
You’d wake up in the morning wondering if they were still there but you didn’t want to meet them, afraid of the magic of their passage still infusing the lighted Christmas tree in the living room, down the hall from the doorway of your bedroom.
Christmas toys were small, peremptory tokens that fulfilled a duty since you went to an American school in which instruction took place in English. Both Cuban and US holidays were observed. They’d told you all about Halloween and Santa Claus coming to your house with gifts on Christmas Eve. We had no problem taking small toys from Santa Claus, but the important ones—bicycles, Lone Ranger costumes and fake Peacemaker revolvers, Tonto action figures, Zorro’s secret hideout (a miniature plastic mountain), were brought by the Three Magic Kings on January 6. (more…)
Immigrant children, Ellis Island, New York, 1908. (Credit: U.S. Government National Archives)
About 45% of the “illegal” immigrant population in the U.S. entered the country through “ports of entry” with legal documents, and then overstayed the terms of their permits. About 55% entered without undergoing immigration inspection. The Cubans avidly sought—and seek—immigration inspection in order to be declared legal residents of the country.
The “special” status granted to Cuban immigrants has existed since the takeover of Cuba by the Castro Revolution. Cubans have repaid in kind by a steadfast allegiance to US right-wing agendas through the last 50 years. In 1961 they answered the siren call of the CIA to join an expeditionary force that would topple the Castro regime—and then were abandoned by the Kennedy administration on the beaches of the Bay of Pigs. The US barely avoided nuclear war with the Soviet Union over Cuba in 1962. Cubans participated in the US war against North Vietnam and were instrumental in the pursuit and defeat of the guerrilla forces of Ché Guevara in Bolivia in 1967.
Do not forget that several of the Watergate burglars in 1972 were Cuban, and that one of the most fiercely disputed electoral counties (Miami-Dade) in the 2000 Bush vs. Gore presidential election is today (and was also then) largely Hispanic (65%) and Cuban-American (34%). (more…)
El Morro lighthouse is located inside the fortress known as the Castillo de los Tres Reyes del Morro. This was built in 1845 and consists of an octagonal dome metal with specially designed to guide ships and aircraft crystals. Located approximately 45 meters above sea level, its light has a range of 18 nautical miles with two light flashes every 15 seconds , helping to avoid accidents as consequences of bad weather or poor visibility. El Faro, next to the Castillo de los Tres Reyes del Morro, has become the symbol of Havana capital of all Cubans. (Credit: CO8MRF / Wikimedia Commons)
Brief Fragments of a Personal Cuban History
The flight of Fulgencio Batista from Cuba (“to avoid more bloodshed”) during the early hours of January 1, 1959, marked the triumph of the Cuban Revolution.
The most comprehensive and best written history of Cuba in English is Hugh Thomas’ Cuba: The Pursuit of Freedom (New York: Harper and Row, 1971). Here is Thomas’ assessment of Cuba before the Castro Revolution:
Cuba’s social misery in the past was due to an extreme form of that public meanness and private affluence that characterizes North America as well as South. (p. 1487)
Soon after Fidel Castro’s assumption of power, U.S. politicians condemned the new regime’s public executions of torturers, policemen, civil servants and suspected criminals as a “bloodbath.” Typically, Castro pointed out U.S. hypocrisy: