During the four and a half years I spent making my documentary film, “Cubamerican”, I witnessed first hand the magnitude of pain and suffering, the psychological trauma, the deep wounds -some scarred some still raw- carried in the psyche and soul of Cubans whose families had shipped them out of Cuba, to protect their freedom against the oppression of Castro’s Communist revolution. Fourteen thousand Cuban children were even shipped away alone, too many would never see their family again.
The death of Fidel Castro is a cathartic event for all Cubamericans. Whether it brings liberty closer to the people of Cuba is rife with doubt, but for Cubamericans, those in my film and the million plus like them, the evil archetype of their parents and grandparents’ splintered lives, the man responsible for them having to leave their country and start new lives from scratch, is finally gone, never to haunt them again.
As a child of the exile, as a Cubamerican profoundly proud of the accomplishments of the generation profiled in the film, I too felt a lightening, an overdue relief, when I heard the news of Fidel’s death. I immediately thought of my deceased father unable to experience the exaltation that must have seized all the Cuban warriors that have been part of the resistance to Castro’s regime for 57 years. Castro once said that history would absolve him; he needs an ever-merciful God to accomplish that feat. The acrimony and hatred that Castro spewed and fomented for over half a century, the pitting of Cuban vs. Cuban, created nothing but tragedy. We can only hope that Fidel Castro’s passing will speed the healing of the Cuban family, a healing that all Cubans have yearned and waited for since 1959.
As far as “Cubamerican” is concerned, for me it stands as a reminder of the melancholic loss of a homeland assuaged by the triumph of the courageous and resilient Cuban exiles who found their way to freedom; I fervently hope that its message comforts and inspires exiles around the world.