Fabiola M Hernandez Castro
Fabiola M's Story
I was born in Cardenas where I went to Las Escolapias. In 1961, all private schools were closed by the communist. To continue in the public school system, I was supposed to be indoctrinated by the communist and sent to the farmlands on government missions with the Conrado Benitez Brigades. I have two younger sisters and a younger brother. However, my parents decided to send me away, by myself, on April 4, 1962. I was terrified, but relatives (aunts & cousins) I had in Miami & West Palm Beach were supposed to pick me up at the Miami Airport. The agreement was that I was to stay with them until my family came. What a surprise! The relatives NEVER showed up at the airport. George Guarch (El Abuelo) drove me to Florida City where I stayed with the Rodriguez-Walling family. Mr. Guarch and the Rodriguez-Walling were extremely nice to me, like family, but not quite the same. I missed my parents since this was the first time in my life that I slept away from them. In June 1962, I was sent with another 15 girls to a reformatory, Our Lady of Victory, San Antonio, TX. I called my family and all I was told was that San Antonio was a nice place to be and that I should visit The Alamo. It was HORRIBLE at the reformatory. Two months later Father Ramon O'Farrill, who was at that time assigned to a church in San Antonio, took us out of that place. Father O'Farrill had been forced to leave Cuba aboard the ship Covadonga along with most of the priests in Cuba. I went to a foster home for about two months. It wasn't nice at the foster home either, so I was sent to the Incarnate Word College (IWC), a Catholic school, where I lived like a queen with Pedro Pans Maria Elena Alvarez, Avelina Marrero Fiandor, and Andrea Araño Marti. We went through the Cuban Missile Crisis at IWC. I was then sure I'd never see my family again. Good things very seldom last long. When the school year was over and since I was getting close to 19 years old, I was sent to Villa Maria where I lived for a few months with a large group of Pedro Pan sisters. I returned to Miami in 1964. My parents came in the Freedom Flights almost four years later, December 24,1965. It was the greatest Christmas of them all. By then I was married and living with my husband in Miami. It should be noted that during the almost two years I was in San Antonio, I only received one very short note from my Miami/WPB relatives. In spite of all the loneliness, tears, prayers and hardships, I am glad my parents sent me away in the Pedro Pan program. Could anyone imagine what it would have been like staying in Cuba all these years?