Since Jan. 1, 1959, the first day of Fidel Castro’s Cuban Revolution, the end of the year for Cubans has been a time of turmoil, displacement and exodus — just as it is now for some 8,000 Cubans waiting in Costa Rica to be allowed into the United States.
As former President Fulgencio Batista flew out of Havana on New Year’s Eve 1958 — the first exodus of Cubans began. That night, it was Batista, his family, Cabinet and other officials who went into exile.
Throughout the decades, several significant chapters of the Cuban saga have taken place at year’s end: the revolution, yes, but also the start of Operation Pedro Pan, the release of captured Bay of Pigs fighters from Miami; the start of the Freedom Flights.
Today, despite the easing of diplomatic relations between the United States and Cuba, the 57-year-long exodus, now at more than 1 million Cubans, continues.