For many Cuban refugees who escaped their homeland for America, Fidel Castro represented little more than a tyrant who threatened their freedom and existence. His recent death drew world-wide attention to the island nation and rekindled memories of his decades-long rule.
For refugees, Castro evokes images of choking repression, the paralyzing control of their daily lives, unjust prison time and impromptu firing squads.
He is the reason so many climbed onto makeshift rafts, and virtually anything that would float, to risk their lives and leave Cuba—to attempt the perilous crossing of the Straits of Florida—for a chance at freedom in the United States.
Their determination to escape a cruel dictator and experience liberty on foreign soil illustrates how precious freedom is when it is lost, and how it shouldn’t be taken for granted.
Try envisioning what life would be like without many of the freedoms that are part of the fabric of America and written into the Constitution.
Freedom is the cornerstone of a democratic society and provides individuals with the ability to choose career paths and personal goals. Instead of a dictator, they control their own lives and their own destinies.
Many of the greatest inventions the world has ever seen have come from America and the creative environment that flourishes in this country. In the free marketplace, individuals with the best ideas and inventions can find success and society as a whole can benefit. In contrast, those who live in repressive societies, such as Castro’s Cuba, lack basic freedoms and have no incentive or motivation to follow their dreams. Instead, they are forced to live uninspired and unmotivated lives and almost never see the fruits of their labor.
While some Cuban refugees didn’t complete the hazardous journey and died along the way, they found a freedom of a different kind in the pursuit of freedom. But many who refused to give in to Castro and left to seek a better way of life found the freedom they were seeking. They arrived in this country with little or no money but somehow managed to make ends meet and ultimately succeeded. They went on to start families and build businesses. It wasn’t easy for many who encountered obstacles along the way. In the end, they only achieved success through hard work, perseverance and determination.
They continue striving to reach their own goals, free to pursue the American dream.