My parents were put on planes as teenagers by their parents, not knowing if they’d ever see each other again. How desperate would you have to be to send your not-ready-for-the-real-world 16-year-old away to a foreign country without knowing if you’d ever be reunited? A lot of things have happened to Cuba since my parents fled it. But change doesn’t appear to be one of them.The ocean between our countries is filled with the Cuban bodies that tell the story, lives literally thrown to the wind in desperation, hoping to reach America’s possibility-soaked shores on boats made of old tires and wood and poverty’s debris. No free press. No elections. No freedom. That’s the Cuba that still surrounds the baseball diamond where we play this game. That’s the Cuba people still get on makeshift boats to flee today.My mother? All this happy news coverage has brought the bad memories back. She has some post-traumatic stress disorder from the communism. She feels it in her heart whenever she is shipping medicine to her brother stuck back in Cuba. She feels it in an esophagus that hasn’t worked right since she was put on that plane, the communism literally choking her a little bit with every breath she has taken since.She had her phones tapped bAack home. She endured neighborhood spies coming into her home whenever they pleased. She attended services for students and intellectuals killed for fighting for elections and a Constitution. She was chased through the streets by police dragging chains for attending those services. Her brother was a political prisoner. Whenever she visited him, she wondered if the fresh blood on the firing-squad walls might be his. He spent almost 10 years in that prison for his politics. Why the hell would she trust any of that today?Understand something please: My parents are exiles, not immigrants. It is an enormous difference. They didn’t come to this country looking for money. They left money behind and came here to risk poverty. They did so because they were exiled from a land they didn’t want to leave and still miss, a land they will not visit until this regime is ousted or they see real change that can be trusted.
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