We partied in the streets.
It's not kind to rejoice in anyone's death but the Cuban exile community had been waiting for Castro's demise or death for almost 60 years. The rest of the world may think of El Che and Fidel Castro as heroic revolutionaries, but we know better. Castro was a tyrant who ruled through oppression and propaganda. He and his cronies, like El Che, executed thousands of innocents by firing squad and jailed countless others simply because they opposed them. Castro took away people's hard-earned businesses and properties, my grandpa, mi viejito lindo, being one of them. He brought sugar and all other production to a standstill, made it difficult for people to find and afford food, and brought a previously economically successful country to depend on foreign aid from the Soviets, and when that didn't pan out, oil from Venezuela. He made it illegal for people to leave the country, forcing millions of people to flee via makeshift rafts. Those who were lucky left while it was still legal or as young children in the "Peter Pan" Operation, in which parents made the desperate decision to send their children to the states alone. My mom was supposed to be one of them but my grandma backed out. Instead they came in the "Freedom Flights" of the 60s and 70s, but she and my grandpa had to "buy" their way through forced agricultural labor for three years. My dad came in the 80s through the Mariel boatlift, the last time Fidel opened the floodgates for all those "gusanos" (pejorative term meaning "worms" to refer to those who opposed the communist regime) who wanted to leave. The raft phenomenon really exploded in the 90s and continues to this day. So many lives have been lost at sea, including Elian Gonzalez's mother who risked her life to bring her son to this country. Of course, the United States government cited with the communist father and returned the child to Cuba, where he was indoctrinated and made a national symbol and spokesperson for the merits of the regime. His mother's death was in vain.
Castro was a tyrant who ruled through oppression and propaganda.
So as soon as my dad and I learned that Castro had really died this time (he "died" so many times since 2006), we went straight to the unofficial headquarters of the Cuban exile community: Versailles Restaurant. Never mind that it was 2 am-- the mayor had already asked the police to close off that section of Calle Ocho so that people could gather. The city apparently had a "Castro is dead" plan for years, and it was finally happening. We stayed until 3:30, and the next day we went back for more.
|Cuban Hipster-- check out that 'stache.|
|There were several Venezuelans celebrating in solidarity.|
|Me and Saavedra, a figure known to many in the Cuban exile community here in Miami. He's extremely vocal at Versailles and is often interviewed by the press anytime something happens with Cuba.|
|Speaking of the press, my dad was interviewed by a Japanese reporter. It was an international reporting event at good ol' Versailles.|
Cuba was in official mourning for 9 days, culminating in the burial of Castro's supposed ashes yesterday. There are many videos showcasing the grief and devastation of his commie supporters. But behind those mourning his loss in front of the cameras are people who had to show face at these events or they'd risk outing themselves as opposers, which could lead to trouble with el comité (watchdog type neighborhood groups with eyes and ears everywhere), your workplace, the government.
Yes we were celebrating Castro's death, but we were also celebrating in hopes of a new Cuba, one that is free to pursue economic, religious, and political freedoms it has been denied for almost 6 decades. Let's see what happens for my motherland now. Opening up the island to American tourism and business, plus this guy's death-- let's hope Cuba can make a new name for itself beyond the legacy of this communist mafioso who oppressed and murdered his people, reaped in all the benefits (he was worth $900 million-- talk about a humble communist), and conned the world.
My only regret is that mi viejito lindo and so many others died too early to see this day.
And hey, thanks for reading. Because this is a style blog... Here are my outfit details.
TOP: Tommy Hilfiger // JEANS: Denim & Supply // BAG: The Sak // AVIATORS: Francesca's Collections // FLATS: Target // LIPS: Sephora lip stain in Always Red
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