An article in today’s Seattle Times describes Cuba’s celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the failed Bay of Pigs invasion, in which U.S. political leaders trained Cuban exiles with the goal of ousting revolutionary leader Fidel Castro. The U.S. government overestimated the amount of support they would get from Cubans still in the country and ultimately abandoned the exiles in the middle of the attempted takeover, which failed quickly. How timely. I have been writing about my friend Maria, who became a Cuban exile at age 11, around the time of the Bay of Pigs fiasco. Maria’s father played a role in the Bay of Pigs invasion while still in Cuba, an action that led to his imprisonment and made it difficult for him to leave the country.
Go to an earlier posting for the beginning of their story.
Maria was the first in her family to leave Cuba through the Pedro Pan airlift. Watch Part III of the video interview of Maria talking about leaving Cuba and her early experiences in the U.S. What happened when you got off the plane? (2 minutes 43 seconds) She was one of the lucky ones.
Several months later her brothers were granted exit visas, but when they arrived in Miami no one took them in. They eventually ended up in a military academy in Tacoma, Washington, on the opposite side of the country from Florida. Maria’s mother, still in Cuba, had no word about the fate of her sons for several months. Ultimately the family was re-united in Tacoma, but not without hardships for both parents and children. Part IV of my interview with Maria reveals what happened in those early months after leaving Cuba. How long before your family was reunited? (5 minutes 17 seconds)