Lodinews.com

default avatar
Welcome to the site! Login or Signup below.
|
||
Logout|My Dashboard

Giving thanks for an escape from Cuba

Print
Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Wednesday, November 21, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 6:13 am, Wed Nov 21, 2012.

Plane props whirl-ed as 15-year-old Graciella Alcebo, along with her younger brother and sister, boarded a Pan American flight for Miami.

The once-popular tourist attraction called Cuba was now an abyss of despair, as communist ruler Fidel Castro continued his reign of terror. It all began with his successful revolution and overthrow of dictator Fulgencio Batista in 1959. Hundreds of people were being murdered by Castro's government and imprisoned for their political beliefs. Her father was one of them.

"We were part of an underground program called 'Pedro Pan,'" she told me. "It was 1961. The purpose of the program was to get as many children out of the country as possible.

"My siblings and I were in a refugee camp for six months and later sent to an orphanage ... . Fortunately, two years later, my father was released from prison and allowed to leave the island," she said. "The government confiscated all of our property, and we lost everything. My father was a dentist but could not practice in the U.S. because they did not recognize his credentials. He had to take a job as a janitor."

When Graciella reached adulthood, she took on various jobs in different parts of the country, ranging from working in a bank to an eligibility worker in county government. Eventually, she and her husband settled in Lodi and finally in Yuba City.

"Grace," as she prefers to be called, still has relatives in Cuba that tell hair-raising stories about the present state of the island. Here are some:

"Everyone gets free health care," she reported. "But by the time they are done rationing, everyone gets little or nothing — except the government elite, of course. The things we take for granted here are non-existent there. Hospitals don't take new patients because of overcrowding. Medicine is in short supply. Surgeries and medical tests are hard to come by. Doctors and nurses take on extra non-medical jobs just to survive. Your nurse could also be a prostitute and your doctor might be driving a taxi."

She continued: "Universities are 'free' but have strings attached. In order to get a college education in Cuba, you must first volunteer to work in the agricultural fields for two years. The government picks your major and course of study. Upon graduation, there are usually no jobs available."

Grace stated that the economy is government-controlled as well. This causes additional problems: "Everything here is rationed to make sure all get their 'fair share.' If you grow your own food, you have to give part of it to those who produce nothing. Pork is the main staple for protein. Fish and chicken are not readily available."

During this time of year, Grace thinks about various blessings and remains thankful for her escape from Havana. She is now happy to be in a country that allows growth and prosperity. However, fears still remain.

"I am very concerned about the future of this country for my children and grandchildren," she said. "I see the beginnings of what happened in Cuba starting here. When one political party dominates a state or a nation, power can become absolute. This leads to suppression of opposing political speech and ideas. Persecution of those who disagree with government policies soon follows. It's already happening on some college campuses. It's simply a lesson from history that we don't seem to learn."

After reviewing Grace's life story, I hope that she is wrong in her analysis of America's future. But I can't avoid thinking about the words of historian Gregory Gores who once stated: "Man does not change. Only his technology changes."

Steve Hansen is a Lodi writer.

Rules of Conduct

  • 1 Use your real name. You must register with your full first and last name before you can comment. (And don’t pretend you’re someone else.)
  • 2 Keep it clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually oriented language.
  • 3 Don’t threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
  • 4 Be truthful. Don't lie about anyone or anything. Don't post unsubstantiated allegations, rumors or gossip that could harm the reputation of a person, company or organization.
  • 5 Be nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
  • 6 Stay on topic. Make sure your comments are about the story. Don’t insult each other.
  • 7 Tell us if the discussion is getting out of hand. Use the ‘Report’ link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
  • 8 Share what you know, and ask about what you don't.
  • 9 Don’t be a troll.
  • 10 Don’t reveal personal information about other commenters. You may reveal your own personal information, but we advise you not to do so.
  • 11 We reserve the right, at our discretion, to monitor, delete or choose not to post any comment. This may include removing or monitoring posts that we believe violate the spirit or letter of these rules, or that we otherwise determine at our discretion needs to be monitored, not posted, or deleted.

Welcome to the discussion.

2 comments:

  • Darrell Baumbach posted at 9:18 am on Mon, Nov 26, 2012.

    Darrell Baumbach Posts: 9405

    Letter stated...."I see the beginnings of what happened in Cuba starting here

    Perhaps if she looked closer, she might see the beginning is long gone... I suddenly have an urge for a Cohiba... and a Michael Moore healthcare system that he appreciates.

    Great article that captures the concerns of people who embrace freedom from government control and individual freedoms.

    Bad article for people who enjoy of comfort of big brother.

     
  • Joanne Bobin posted at 9:27 am on Wed, Nov 21, 2012.

    Joanne Bobin Posts: 4488

    Interesting propaganda piece.

    Too bad this columnist did not research his information, but rather relied on hear-say and annecdotes.

    One positive - in the 1950's, Cuba was known as the "whorehouse"of America" and the capital of Mafia corruption and violence.

    No longer.

    As the older generation of Cuban refugees dies out, the US should consider ending the 50 year-long embargo and begin trading with Cuba. Its citizens would benefit greatly.

     

Recent Comments

Posted 13 hours ago by Gary Maurer.

article: Letter: Leaders to blame for police dea…

Hey Thomas, I am with you on this one. This kind of balderdash is always about the writer's jaded views of the world and never, never abou…

More...

Posted 14 hours ago by Ed Walters.

article: Letter: Leaders to blame for police dea…

I`m off being bad, at least till after New Years, Merry Christmas to all you happy posters. [beam]

More...

Posted 15 hours ago by Mike Adams.

article: Letter: U.S. suffers from total lack of…

Former contributor alex recently emailed me. He wants everyone here to have a wonderful and merry holiday season and wishes everyone a ver…

More...

Posted 15 hours ago by Mike Adams.

article: Letter: Leaders to blame for police dea…

"All those who voted for this petulant little man should be ashamed." ...I'm not. "If any police officers are hurt as a res…

More...

Posted 19 hours ago by Ed Walters.

article: Letter: U.S. suffers from total lack of…

Time for a change: Everything that can be said has been said in many forms concerning Ferguson, along with the latest shooting. Simon, …

More...

Video

Popular Stories

Poll

What was the biggest local story of 2014?

It has been an eventful year in Lodi, from the antics of a wild turkey named Tom Kettleman to the announced closure of the General Mills plant. What do you see as the biggest story of the year?

Total Votes: 217

Loading…

Your News

News for the community, by the community.

Mailing List

Subscribe to a mailing list to have daily news sent directly to your inbox.

  • Breaking News

    Would you like to receive breaking news alerts? Sign up now!

  • News Updates

    Would you like to receive our daily news headlines? Sign up now!

  • Sports Updates

    Would you like to receive our daily sports headlines? Sign up now!

Manage Your Lists