Wednesday, January 14, 2015

CUBA!

While I was a business administration student at the University of Arkansas in the late fifties, there was an exciting story making the Greek-house rounds about the son of one of South Arkansas’ oldest families.  This young man had dropped out of school and gone to Key West where he was busy “running guns to Cuba” (gossip jargon) in support of the charismatic Castro.

Those of us stuck in class were suitably impressed by the daring adventure of one of our own. At the time I was the managing editor of the campus newspaper but no word of this ever was published in our paper….college newspapers at the time were not exactly living under freedom of information rules except when the Dean allowed it. 
(Apparently this approval policy in media continues in the 21st century according to Sharyl Attkisson’s book Stonewalled.)

Castro’s guerrilla warfare against a corrupt dictator was highly romanticized during this era, but the tide of approval ebbed when Castro’s true colors emerged as Red. What seemed a patriotic attempt to further democracy by “running guns” turned out to be a dramatic mistake that eventually threatened America’s national security.

By the time of Kennedy’s Bay of Pigs disaster and the missile standoff with Khruschev in 1962, I was a young Catholic wife and mother with a baby son living in Hope, Arkansas, where many of my bridge playing friends had husbands called up to duty. It was a fearful time for all of us.

The next year my husband accepted a new job and we moved to Little Rock.  After my second child was born in late 1963, I began teaching third grade at Holy Souls Catholic Elementary where I met my first group of Cuban refugees and their children.  The Catholic Church played a major role in helping Cubans resettle in America after losing all their assets and homes.  Not all ended up living in Miami and many of those families still live in Little Rock.

After experiencing as a college student the romanticized versions of the Castro takeover in the late 1950s, my first hand experience with the Cuban families resettling in Little Rock was a rude awakening to the true story behind the Cuban revolution.

Those Cuban refugees from the late 1950s and early 1960s know what the real situation is. Let us hope our government leaders are listening.