Cuban Refugees React to Castro's Retirement

By: Kristen Ross Email
By: Kristen Ross Email

It is the end of era as Fidel Castro steps down after governing Cuba for nearly half-a-century.

However, a pair of College Station residents, who fled the country, say though Castro is out of office the effects of his reign will be felt for years to come.

"The freedom we have in this country, that so many people take for granted, we didn't have there," Native Cuban Fabiola Gonzalez said.

Fabiola and Vicente Gonzalez left their country more than 40 years ago, but not before Fidel Castro rose to power.

"For the first six months or so it was like a paradise," Vicente said. "There was a lot of liberties that people had never enjoyed before, and then he began to tighten, and he began to take control of everything."

"There was no transportation, and the food was getting real hard to find it," Fabiola said.

The couple says as Castro settled into his position, they slowly began noticing changes. Everything from the landscape of the country to everyday items missing.

"Ballpoint pens disappeared, a small item, carbon paper disappeared, another small item," Vicente said. "Black beans disappeared, meat started getting scarce, and there were rumors that nobody would be able to hold two jobs which I did."

As things got worse, Vicente decided he is wife should head to the United States.

Now legal citizens, the couple has had to sit back and watch their homeland in turmoil.

"Nothing is well taken care of," Fabiola said. "They don't have water, electricity, they ration everything. It's like you can't live over there."

The couple says the news of Castro's retirement is bittersweet.

"I think there isn't going to be too much change now. I think it's going to take time to change," Fabiola said.

"Even if they decided today they wanted to be a democratic country tomorrow there's no infrastructure," Vicente said. "Everything belongs to the government. Now how are they going to turn it over to the people to make a democracy?"

However, the Gonzales' hope to see the day when a government controlled Cuba is finally set free.


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