Monday, July 25, 2005

"Point the Bow Towards Hope" -A True Story

George from Babalu has been giving segments of a great story of courage and determination. Here is part of the introduction from Babalu:

The story we will be serializing on Babalú Blog over the coming weeks is just such a story. It is the story of this engineer who risked his life to leave the island of Cuba. I will not publish his real name and I will alter some details since he still fears for reprisals against family members he still has in Cuba. After I told Val the story, he, with his usual generosity and graciousness, told me to try to convince my friend to publish it.

I met him in the early winter of 2001, when I had just started a new job, in those dark and depressing days after September 11, when the world seemed turned on its head. By that time my friend had been in the US for about six years and had completed his Master's Degree in Engineering at a local university. In the course of getting to know the people in the office he casually told me of his journey and showed me photos of his departure from Cuba. The others in the office had already heard this, of course, but listening to it for the first time, I was to say the least, astounded. In the same circumstance, I cannot imagine summoning up the kind of courage it took to make that journey.

My friends, there are people you meet in the course of life that change the way you think about issues. When you hear a tale such as this you can never think about Cuba the same ever again. It's not that you didn't hold certain beliefs before; it's just that a story like this one crystallizes the mind in such a way that that a return to apathy is impossible.

I've heard many stories about the flight from Cuba to escape the evil regime of fidel castro. Having grown up in Miami surrounded by family and friends of the Diaspora of the 1960s, I would hear the harrowing stories: stowaways, Operation Pedro Pan, the endless waiting for the freedom flights that brought desperate family members to Miami, prison sentences, fusilamientos, reunions, and in some cases, resignation at the prospect of a painful loss. I've heard them all.

In the last decade or so, we started hearing the stories of the balseros, brave souls who were willing to risk everything to escape Cuba by braving the open waters between Cuba an Florida. These are the Cuban equivalents of the Vietnamese boat people who also fled over an ocean to escape Communism and of all those who tried to climb over an evil wall in Berlin. Four brave, young American men lost their lives in 1996 trying to help rescue any balseros they might find floating in the Florida straits when Cuban Air Force jets shot down their unarmed Cessnas in international waters. These amazing stories culminated with the arrival of Elian Gonzalez in 1999, aided in his survival on the high seas by a porpoise it is said. Such a miracle and it ended so sadly. My friend is one of those balseros.

Needless to say, risking everything -- without the use of his legs! -- speaks volumes about the country he left behind.

He made his journey and, although not reaching the United States, was rescued at sea by the United States Coast Guard. He and his crew were taken to Guantanamo Naval Base where, during the period of detention that these courageous folks endured, he wrote a long letter to his mother and brother, who were still on the island.


For your reading enjoyment here are the first three installments to, "Point the Bow Towards Hope."

Part One
Part Two
Part Three (latest installment)

1 comment:

The Universal Spectator said...

Thanks, dude. I appreciate the links. The story is compelling. Read the anonymous comment left by an alleged membe of the Coast Guard.