My long-time friend Luis is a first-generation American like me, whose parents were born in Cuba and had to flee the island in the face of Communism. Among the many stories he’s told me so far, the one that has stood out the most was the one about his grandfather, Alberto Garcia, who was inadvertently made a part of the war between Guevara’s army and Batista’s army. From the Wikipedia entry on the Battle of Santa Clara:
A local mechanic, named Alberto Garcia, was taken in the midst of gun fire to his shop, about one block away from the action, in order to repair the machine gun. Mr. Garcia’s new home had just been built right next to the train tracks and it served as Che’s headquarters during the battle. Mr. Garcia was still living in his old house with his young family just across the street. In an effort to capture Che Guevara and in retaliation for the taking of the train, Mr. Garcia’s new home was subsequently bombarded by Batista’s army.
While I hold the same beliefs as many of my peers, Luis was far more celebratory of the easing of travel restrictions to Cuba from the USA. Several weeks ago, he traveled to his father’s hometown of Cienfuegos, Cuba on the south-central part of the island. I admit, I felt a touch of envy he was setting foot on our parents’ soil; it is something I have dreamt of for most of my life. His travels and photos made me very wistful for my parents and grandparents, who have all passed away. While they loved being Americans, they missed their homes probably more often than they ever let on; none of them ever really talked about it much.
I’m hoping to get more photos from Luis to share, as well as stories about his perspective on how things are on the island, and the feeling he got from the people, separate from the capitol city of Havana and out of the spotlight of the American media. Until then, here is a small gallery of his photos. Gracias, Lu!