My Journey out of Communist Dictatorship
It only took 45 minutes for our lives to drastically change forever. That is the amount of time it takes to go from Cuba, a third-world communist country, to the United States, a first-world capitalist nation. September 27th, 2015, marked the beginning of a journey that brought the hardest challenges our family had ever encountered: a season of newness and change, of dreams and expectations, of questions and very few plans. Along with the doubt and the fear, though, came security in the One who, for a purpose we had yet to discover, had taken us from our homeland to the land of the free.
So we began our journey in this country known for its freedom, which we couldn’t begin to fathom, no matter how thoroughly it was explained to us. How could we? Everything we had known had been manipulative government, controlling every aspect of our lives: the jobs we were allowed to work, how much food we were allowed to buy, what careers we could pursue, how hospitals and schools ran—just everything. From kindergarten to 12thgrade, students are required to participate in daily routine political acts at school; everyone is required to recite the school motto stating that we are communists and that we strive to be like our leaders. I remember the first day of school always being a little bit scary because the school principal would come to every class and ask if there was any Christians in the room. I was always the only one in my class, so they would write down my name to keep it in their files.
Once, my family had dinner with one of my dad’s best friends, a man who was known to be against the government. My mom asked me to run to the store and buy some sodas for dinner. As I came back, I saw a middle-aged man outside the house where the government worker for our neighborhood lived. The man verbally harassed me as I walked past, making me uncomfortable, so I walked faster, hurrying to my house. As we put our plates away after dinner, the government-assigned worker for our neighborhood knocks on our door with a lame excuse for calling. My father thought it seemed suspicious. Half an hour later, the government’s secret force was knocking on our door—led by the same man who had verbally harassed me earlier that evening. He had found out about my dad’s visiting friend and was there to arrest him. The only reason they gave for the arrest was that the Pope was visiting the capital and they didn’t want my dad’s friend to organize a protest while the Pope was in Cuba; therefore, they were going to take him into custody. After much argument, they allowed my dad’s friend to stay at our house under close supervision. We had two guards outside our door and another two cars, with more guards inside, parked in the street. They stayed all night and all day; it was not until evening of the following day that they left and let my dad’s friend “free” —at least for now.
That was not the only time our family had a direct taste of the controlling communist government. In one if my dad’s recent mission trips to Cuba, he was stopped and threatened twice at the airport for being as a pastor. The list of offenses is endless. Sadly, this is the reality that the people of Cuba have faced for decades.
Moving to the U.S. not only gave us freedom but it opened our eyes to things that were always kept from us. I was fascinated to study the life of President Reagan and learn of his strong influence in defeating the Soviet Union, one of the strongest communist powers ever known. I was so in awe of the courage and leadership of this president, but, I couldn’t help but wonder how it’s possible that such a strong communist power could be defeated while the small, underdeveloped country of Cuba— oppressed by communism for over 50 years—is still trapped by its system. Is it because of lack of resources? Lack of support? Lack of a leader like Reagan with the resources and courage to organize and lead a rebellion that will end this dictatorship. I do not know the answer for sure; all I know is that I pray God will raise a Reagan again for Cuba, for North Korea, and for any other country oppressed by communism. I hope that, one day, they too can experience in their own land the freedom and the rights that I, as a recently naturalized American citizen, get to enjoy.
The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. They do not claim to reflect the opinions or views of the Defendant or its staff members.