“Cuba is a shame y una desgracia,” my mother Carmen, complained. She was talking about the situation that the country faced. “Este Castro maldito with his communism is killing our people and doing whatever he wants con nuestro país!” her voice echoed through the house.
Growing up listening to these sorts of comments was normal. A distaste for Castro and his revolution became a household sentiment.
It was the start of a new decade; Miami in 1980 became the capital of drugs and prostitution as the regime of communistic Cuba continued. That’s the Miami my single mother raised me in. She had to leave the island with her 3-year-old son when Fidel took over Cuba in 1959. At home, aside from teaching me to detest the Cuban government, our relationship was poor to say the least.
“Mamá, can I go out to the movies with my friends?” I asked.
“No, no puedes, and do not even ask why you cannot!” She responded with an intense look.
In my 25 years of life, I can't recall ever seeing her laugh or smile. It felt like she was emotionless. One day out of boredom, I looked into my mother's old papers, coming across a drawer full of letters and old pictures. While scanning through all the papers, one of them caught my attention.
Me voy a México para seguir luchando por la Revolución, cuida de ti.
tu gran amor, Alejandro.”
I read the letter once, twice and many times over. The letter, written only months before my birth clued me into my possible father, who had so far been a mystery. At home, the revelation of his mysterious identity was always followed by a monumental argument.
“No preguntes por ese malnacido, who left us and did not want to acknowledge you!”
I became accustomed to receiving this type of response. It got to the point where resignation was just a habit but what I had discovered encouraged me to ask.
It was April 20,1980 when I walked into the house and my mother was sitting in the sillón listening to Radio Martí.
“What are you doing here tan temprano?” she asked in surprise.
“I finished work early,” I replied. My voice slightly trembled.
Taking a deep breath, I continued with a strong tone. “I found the letter.”
“Qué carta?” She stood up and looked into my eyes defiantly.
“La carta from Alejandro.” My mother gasped in disbelief and shouted.
“Qué tu haces looking into my private belongings?”
“Mamá. Is he my father?” I demanded to know.
Thick silence engulfed the living room as Fidel Castro's speech about El Mariel came on the radio and my mother began sobbing. This was the first time that I saw tears stream down her face. Something terrible was bound to occur.
She pointed to the radio and slowly spoke. “Ese hombre speaking on the radio, Fidel Alejandro Castro Ruz, that is your father.”