Little Havana - Flagami

Donors rush to aid survivor of Castro’s prisons. ‘This shows me there’s still hope’

After spending years in a Cuban prison, Ana Rodriguez faces eviction from her Miami home

Ana Rodriguez was a political prisoner in Cuba for many years. Rodriguez speaks about growing old now in Miami and how she is about to lose her home to eviction.
Up Next
Ana Rodriguez was a political prisoner in Cuba for many years. Rodriguez speaks about growing old now in Miami and how she is about to lose her home to eviction.

Ed Goldfarb was walking into a meeting Tuesday morning when the emails started pouring in — bang bang bang. All notifying him people were donating to the GoFundMe campaign he created March 4 to help Ana Rodríguez, a Cuban exile who endured 19 years in one of Fidel Castro’s prisons for women and is now facing removal from her Miami home.

“Oh, yes,” he thought to himself with relief. “People are realizing this was a very, very, very special woman and they want to help.”

The notifications, which started after a story about Rodríguez’s struggle was published in the Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald at 7 a.m. that day, haven’t stopped. By the end of Tuesday, more than 100 people had pledged nearly $8,000. Donors posted messages explaining how they were moved to action by Rodríguez’s courage to fight for democracy on the island.

“This brave woman survived the atrocity of communism and deserves to live the rest of her life in peace, comfort and security.” wrote one of them, Stephanie Kienzle.

“Her story reminds me of my mother,’ ” said Guillermo Martinez. “Life in exile was marked forever by the damage done by the revolution.”

“It should be the duty of all Cubans!” wrote Josefina Carrillo.

One particular good Samaritan, who requested anonymity, pledged to try to arrange it financially so the woman can stay in her house.

“Hopefully, greed will not get in the way of a good deed,” that benefactor said to the Herald of the lender or lenders.

Home02AnaRodriguezEKM
This is the home that Ana Rodríguez fears she will lose to foreclosure. Emily Michot emichot@miamiherald.com

Goldfarb is a real estate agent who discovered 80-year-old Rodríguez back in November when he visited her foreclosed home, located near the intersection of Southwest Eighth Street and Le Jeune, to snap some photos and help the bank sell it.

His plans abruptly changed when he noticed a framed book jacket on the wall about Rodríguez’s haunting experience in Cuban prisons. Rodríguez told him about her suffering after she was captured by Cuban State Security in 1961 and sentenced to 30 years for rebelling against the Castro regime.

After nearly two decades, she was freed and made her way to Miami.

Goldfarb did something he had never done in his 29 years in the business. He instantly vowed to Rodríguez to do everything he could to prevent her from having to live in her car.

Before jumping into the housing industry, Goldfarb used to make a living through advertising and public relations. He knows the power of spreading information. He thought to himself, “I’m not a Realtor anymore. I’m back in PR.”

Then he told her: “If we can get the media behind us, we can save your home.”

Goldfarb thought Rodríguez had time, but then he found out that she was facing removal by the end of March, and he accelerated his efforts. He estimated she needed about $300,000 to stay.

He sent out news releases, made calls and visited the courthouse to track down the property’s history. He also contacted the Miami Herald, where, by chance, the author of the book proudly displayed on Rodríguez’s wall, Glenn Garvin, was a longtime reporter and columnist.

Titled “Diary of a Survivor,” the book was published in 1992. It describes the horrors Rodríguez endured, including violence and starvation. Garvin wrote of her current plight in a story published Tuesday.

Books03AnaRodriguezEKM.JPG
Ana Rodríguez’s life story — medical student, longtime Cuban political prisoner, exile in Miami — was turned into a book. Now 80, she is facing another crisis. Emily Michot emichot@miamiherald.com

“Things are happening very quickly; let’s see what happens,” said Goldfarb. “It looks like we’re going to be successful.”

When donors rushed to the rescue Tuesday, he wasn’t surprised. He had expected the Cuban community to step up to assist this “heroine,” and it did — with flying colors.

Rodríguez was shocked when she heard the news.

“I got really excited, but at the same time I began to remember all of the bad things, the injustices and the grievances done to me in the past, and I could not believe that something so good was happening now,” Rodríguez said.

She doesn’t think of herself as a heroine. “I believe that I fulfilled my duty,” she said, “that is all.”

She said Goldfarb is the “real hero of the movie” and the one she’s most grateful to for seizing onto her fight and making it his own.

“I think that it’s going to be achieved, but whether it is achieved or not, this tells me very nice things about human beings,” she said. “This shows me there’s still hope in the world.”

  Comments