As I read the article this morning, feelings that had been locked away for years returned with such clarity that I felt it had only happened months ago. My family and I came on August 5th, 1966 after months of waiting and two long sleepless nights at this house in "El Laguito" in Havana's "Country" neighborhood. I was 11 years old and together with my parents, Mario Obregon Bardina, Victoria Rodriguez, my sister Lupe and my aunt Nelda Pino and cousin, Osvaldo Pino.
My father made us memorize phone numbers from relatives in the Miami area just in case our documents were confiscated just as our possessions and properties had been days before. Very early in the morning they bused us to Varadero Airport and climbed aboard a flight on MacKey Airlines to Miami. It was my first plane ride, so in a way I was excited for the adventure of what was to come, not realizing the tremendous sacrifice my parents were about to endure.
Originally scheduled to continue on to Los Angeles, California, we landed at Miami Airport and were taken by bus to Opalocka Airport were the whole family was processed and parents were interviewed. It was a long and tedious day when finally we were taken to the "Freedom House" or "Casa de la Libertad" on the North side of Miami Airport. I can't remember how many days we slept in bunk beds when finally my father was given a $10 bill, all legal documents and were allowed to walk out the door to freedom and a new life.
My parents decided against going to California and due to help and assistance of loving relatives such as the Raciel Cartaya family we remained in Miami where my father passed away four years ago without realizing his dream of going back to a free Cuba.
I will always be indebted to this amazing country for allowing all of us to become successful and defenders of Democracy and human rights. Again, with tears in my eyes, I thank you.
August 5th, 1966