I was born in Miami in 1951, lived in what is now called Little Havana and in the suburbs of what is now Miller Heights. My earliest memory of Cubans coming to Miami was in 1956 when a new neighbor spoke this strange language. I grew up loving the beautiful Spanish architecture of Coral Gables and the Spanish lessons that I was taught from second grade to seventh grade.
I remember my mother storing canned goods in the closet during the Cuban Missile Crisis and feeling a little put out when going into stores where the employees didn’t speak English. Yes, I was one of those misplaced Anglos. But, I still have this longing to go to the country that so many people whom I know and love came from.
Why am I not allowed to go to the places they speak of and experience the art and music that so many other people around the world can?
Why is it that my husband fought in the communist country of Viet Nam and I lost a cousin there, yet I could travel there if I wanted to? Why is it that China, a communist country of more than one billion people, is one that people in our country visit all the time, yet I can not go to a little island 90 miles from our country because it is communist?
Yes, I understand that many of my Cuban friends lost homes, businesses and much more, but didn’t all those people in communist countries that the United States recognizes lose the same things? I just don’t understand the different standard.
I want to go to Cuba before I die. If the culture is different and the real Cuban culture is in Miami, let me know. I want to feel the heart of the people.
Barbara Houghton, Greenville, S.C.