"Obama Is Gonna Let Me Go Home?"

My mother was born on January 8, 1958 in Havana, Cuba at the height of the Cuban Revolution. She was the daughter of an Italian-born American World War II veteran living and working in Havana and a Cuban dancer who descends from Spanish and Italian descent herself. (Yes, my grandma was a dancer, still is when the arthritis doesn't act up)

It was not even a year after her birth that my mother, my uncle (her twin brother), and my grandparents moved from Havana to Miami, Florida (then later to Manhattan in 1967). They came to Miami by plane only weeks before Batista was forced from power a little more than two years before the US broke relations with Cuba. My grandfather passed 20 years ago. As lung cancer took him away, my abuela told him she would see him in heaven soon. Grandpa told her "Not until you go home first"

My grandmother's family in America consisted of herself, her father who passed away in 1977, her sister who died in 2000, and her cousin (whom I refer to as Zio Juan, even though he isn't technically an uncle). The rest of her cousins are back in Cuba and she hasn't seen or spoke to any of them in over 40 years. Moreover, her mother is buried in Cuba, her father in New York. Abuela has always talked about the day she can return to her homeland and visit her mama's grave.

Abeula's birthday was yesterday, so I called her back in New York, as she picked up the phone, an unusal sound of excitement in her 78 year old voice.

"Obama is gonna let me go home?" she asked.

I never really understood why she didn't take avantage of the Clinton administration's rules that may have allowed her to go back. My guess is she didn't know they existed. I'm actually not too sure what the rules were. As I understand it, Cuban-Americans could return to Cuba, but only if they weren't naturalized citizens, which abuela is, but I don't really know. I was too young to remember.

Abuela is very pleased and very excited to hear the Obama administration speak of "new beginnings" concerning Cuba. She was a strong Hillary Clinton supporter during the primaries. She referred to her as "La Mujer de hierro" She was, however, worried about whether or not Hillary would pursue a reconciliation agenda wiht Cuba. She is very happy to see Hillary Clinton as our Secretary of State take a leadership position on this.

I would like to go back to Cuba with my mom and abuela one day. I am excited to think that day might come soon. I don't know when it will be. There are plenty of steps that need to be taken (for example, the repeal of Helms-Burton), but President Obama won the faith of my abuela and the tough old dancer refuses to leave this earth until she can set foot back on the tropical island where she was born, raised, married and gave birth to her two children.

We all have our important issues. In the last two days, we've seen how many rank torture prosecutions as their main issue, for many it's jobs, healthcare, education, LGBT rights, or, in abuela's case, allowing her to bring her daughter and grandson home again...one more time.

Update [2009-4-18 2:29:14 by Charles Lemos]: Too often we forget why politics matters so much. This diary reminds me why politics matters. It has a human impact.

Tags: Barack Obama, Cuba, Fidel Castro, Hillary Clinton, raul castro (all tags)



Re: "Obama Is Gonna Let Me Go Home?"

wonderful diary.

Highly rec'ed.

by WashStateBlue 2009-04-17 09:26PM | 0 recs
Re: "Obama Is Gonna Let Me Go Home?"

Epa, fue un encanto leer su diario. Gracias.

by Charles Lemos 2009-04-17 10:24PM | 0 recs
Awesome story. Rec'd! n/t

by bobswern 2009-04-18 01:04AM | 0 recs
Re: "Obama Is Gonna Let Me Go Home?"

Wonderful! Your story puts a real face on this story. My mother was a  Ziegfiel chorus dancer on Broadway! I have pictures of her in Havanna where she actually performed in the twenties. I'm not cuban but I hope before my time comes I get a chance to see Cuba too. I live in Florida not to far is it.

by Ed beckmann 2009-04-18 07:29AM | 0 recs
front page upgrade!

If any diary this week deserved it, this one did.

Thanks, moderators!

by WashStateBlue 2009-04-18 08:04AM | 0 recs
Re: front page upgrade!

I am slowly learning the tricks of this trade. I've even learned how to delete diaries. But I did not ban kosnomore.

by Charles Lemos 2009-04-18 11:14AM | 0 recs
Re: "Obama Is Gonna Let Me Go Home?"

Great diary.  My wife's step mom is a Cuban-American.  I wonder if she is going to take advantage of this change and go as well.

by jmnyc 2009-04-18 06:02PM | 0 recs


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