Miami Stories

After strife in Nicaragua faded, family's home was still in Miami

Cecilia Dubon Slesnick, seen with a set of Nicaraguan dolls at her Coral Gables home, arrived in Miami as a 17-month-old as a guerrilla war plagued her home country.
Cecilia Dubon Slesnick, seen with a set of Nicaraguan dolls at her Coral Gables home, arrived in Miami as a 17-month-old as a guerrilla war plagued her home country. ALEX KOLYER

In June 1979, I arrived in Miami with my parents Cecilia Dubon Sacasa and Carlos Dubon, grandmother ''Nonna,'' nanny ''Bibi,'' and my maternal aunts, uncles and cousins.

I was 17 months old.

We believed our stay here would only be a few months -- enough time for things to settle down in Nicaragua, which was sinking into a guerrilla war.

Anastasio Somoza Debayle -- Tío Tacho to us -- was the president of Nicaragua. He was a close family friend -- and my godfather.

The Sandinista forces were out to end his presidency and we, like many others, left the country for our safety. Tío fled to Miami in July 1979. [He lived for a short time on Sunset Island in Miami Beach, but the Carter administration did not grant him permanent asylum.]

Instead, Tío moved to Paraguay, which had granted him political asylum. On Sept. 17, 1980, he was assassinated in Asunción, Paraguay.

When things finally settled down in the early 1990s, many of my family members returned home to Nicaragua. My Mom and I never did. Now, 30 years later, Miami is still our home.

While we spent the first few years on Key Biscayne, the majority of my early childhood was spent in Coral Gables. Besides a few summer trips, I didn't leave Miami until I moved to Ecuador at 13. A few years later, I returned to finish my education at Coral Gables Senior High.

I attended Southern Methodist University in Texas, then went onto graduate school at Bank Street College of Education in New York.

Today, I'm the vice president of education at the Historical Museum of Southern Florida and live in Coral Gables with my husband, Don D. Slesnick III, and our dog Maggie Anne. My mom resides in Key Biscayne.

When I'm not at the museum, I paint and volunteer with the Junior League of Miami and the Junior Orange Bowl Committee.

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