He is dead. Dead forever. Feared and hated by millions of people to whom he promised a better life. Revered by mostly those who did not live under his tyranny.
I will not be grieving over Fidel’s death.
As a boy of 9, I saw — as did my sister two years younger — a man executed by a firing squad. Like so many others, I was not allowed to go to school because our parents rebelled against the words he professed and the violence committed in the name of the Cuban Revolution against its citizens. My childhood was not playing marbles, but instead collecting brass bullet casings.
My parents were not of the aristocracy. We were working class, living in a small town at the base of the mountains where the fighting had taken place. At age 12, on Christmas night, we were forced to leave our home, our friends and everything we possessed except our very souls, and pushed onto a propeller airplane that left us in Mexico.
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We were alone. Lost, really. We had no passports, no money, nothing but the clothes we wore.
Yet we never lost our decency, our dignity, our determination. Months later, we were able to make it to these United States.
We became citizens — Americans by choice. It took great sacrifice and hard work, but we survived — and thrived — in the freest and best country on earth.
I will not grieve a tyrant’s death. Nor will I celebrate it. Neither anger nor sadness have delivered the change we all sought for the Cuban people on the island and in the States.
It is up to us, each of us, to take control of each of our lives from the evil ones.
My dreams begin with this: Restore the full freedom and full opportunity of the 11 million Cubans in the island. I do not know many of them, but I feel for all of them — and for all of us.
It is time to redouble our efforts to build bridges between our counties. Let the Cuban people know that we can offer the opposite to of what Fidel told them we would do. We don’t want their homes. I for one have no desire to do business in Cuba, but I will do all I can to allow Cubans to lead lives of freedom and genuine opportunity.
If we really want to change Cuba, let us in exile unite. Let us speak with one voice. Let us forgo hate lest it consume us. Let us have the courage to move on and forgive.
Fidel Castro look lives, lands, businesses and dreams. At the end he was left with nothing. We who went into exile built new lives, created businesses, reached greater dreams. In reality, we exiles prevailed. We won freedom.
Why would we want to stay angry and sad?
Why? We won!
Michael “Mike” B. Fernandez,
MBF Healthcare Partners