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Volume 18, Number 2
February 20, 2012

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opinion

Also in this section:
Editorials: There really is such a thing as libel; and An offer that she must refuse
Asamblea Ciudadana, Toward the constitutional rule of law
Reporters Without Borders, El Universo verdict sets back freedom of expression
Bernal, About a dams referendum
Fisher, Panama's critical juncture
Tsenliki, Protecting oceans: It's not rocket science
Nauman, Native wisdom guides movement to close Keystone Pipeline route
Estevez, Diary of an arms trade lobbyist
Hightower, The Chief Twinkie goes Ding Dong
McCabe, Unexpected heroes
Thurston, The truth hurts sometimes
Gandásegui, The Ngabe treasure and the Tabasara River
Boff, From internationalized enterprise to biocentric society
Mercy Sisters join Panama justice campaign
Mijares, Ocean front
Worley, The smell test --- passed
Chomsky, "Losing" the World
Harrington, Ngabe awakening
Evans, A different kind of Europe
Council on Hemispheric Affairs, A new Falklands/Malvinas war unlikely
Hidalgo, A democratic crisis close to home
Letters to the editor

Unexpected heroes
by Cristina McCabe

Two hands clasp under the sizzling Cuban sun.

He was a tall, skinny, handsome farmer boy with twinkling bright blue eyes. She, with coffee colored skin and deep brown eyes, was one of eight beautiful daughters of a rich plantation owner.

She was a quiet rebel. Sitting inside the crowded bus, upon hearing the communist cheers she quickly stepped out, opened her purse, and released stink bombs that filled the air with a pungent odor. She spoke out for liberty and ended up in shackles, thrown in a musty cell with rats as her only companions for four months at the mere age of sixteen.

He was a loud, defiant rebel. His booming voice could be heard over the underground radio leading cheers for freedom. His house was filled with forbidden pamphlets, yet when the militia arrived to search his home, his cleverness kept the treason hidden, sparing him the life imprisonment that befell his best friend.

She waited and prayed patiently during his six months in the seminary, waiting for him to return to her. But when he did come back, their greeting was simply one last hug as he packed his small suitcase and flew away, not knowing if he'd see her again as he landed in the Atlanta airport.

Months later, she hid all her possessions, the diamonds cleverly concealed in tubes of toothpaste, the dollar bills and shiny coins padded neatly into socks, and a few photographs to remind her of the life she'd left behind. She boarded the small boat, tears streaming down her face as she reached the white, sandy beaches of Miami.

Two strangers roamed a foreign land with their wealth, family, and friends all left behind on an island they could never return to. In their adoptive home, they experienced thousands of new sounds, smells, sights, and the ramble of a foreign dialect.

Her sisters, who'd once dreamed of becoming nurses and businesswomen, instead became maids and nannies, reminding them of the ones they once had, long ago. Her brothers, who aspired to become politicians, bankers, and lawyers, instead became grocery baggers, dishwashers, and bellhops, carrying the suitcases the wealthy that brought back memories of their own.

Their home, no longer the sprawling mansion on a plantation, became a small duplex apartment and they had to scrape coins together every month to pay the rent and routinely lie to the landlord to fit a family of sixteen in a home with a legal occupancy of five.

Their schooling was no longer in top boarding schools. Instead, they sat in steel trailers where they were put in special needs classes for not being able to properly pronounce the difficult sounds they'd never heard before.

They were both lost, separated by hundreds of miles in a foreign land. That is, until the day when their eyes locked again and two hands clasped under gray clouds of snow, and life resumed towards a hopeful future.

Their story became that of the fabled American Dream. At last, they settled down and married, raising five children who all went on to fulfill their own dreams, becoming lawyers, journalists, business leaders, and White House officials.

Some fifty years, five children, and eight grandchildren later, I walk into the crowded living room and find my grandmother her latest telenovela at full volume as she lounges on the couch, occasionally bickering with my grandfather in between sips of her large diet coke. When I ask her to turn the television down, she instead invites me to sit and watch the drama with her. As I see the young Latin couples flash across the screen I can't help but remember the awkward truth that my grandparents were once like that, and I wonder how their story would have turned out had they not had to flee their homeland.

They never returned to the island where their story began. Instead, they can only see it through faded photographs and endlessly recounted memories. However, three years ago I went back to Cuba and experienced a week of their lives, visiting their former homes that are now showing signs of decay, worn out by the strangers who took their place. I sat on my grandfather's very own small, wooden, chair looking around at the aging furniture --- all left exactly the way it was on the frightful night they fled, over fifty years ago.

To outsiders, they may look like another aging, bickering, white-haired couple. Yet, to me, my Cuban grandparents are my heroes, and I swear that I can still see the twinkle in their eyes when they look at one another.


Cristina McCabe is a junior at Balboa Academy







    

Also in this section:
Editorials: There really is such a thing as libel; and An offer that she must refuse
Asamblea Ciudadana, Toward the constitutional rule of law
Reporters Without Borders, El Universo verdict sets back freedom of expression
Bernal, About a dams referendum
Fisher, Panama's critical juncture
Tsenliki, Protecting oceans: It's not rocket science
Nauman, Native wisdom guides movement to close Keystone Pipeline route
Estevez, Diary of an arms trade lobbyist
Hightower, The Chief Twinkie goes Ding Dong
McCabe, Unexpected heroes
Thurston, The truth hurts sometimes
Gandásegui, The Ngabe treasure and the Tabasara River
Boff, From internationalized enterprise to biocentric society
Mercy Sisters join Panama justice campaign
Mijares, Ocean front
Worley, The smell test --- passed
Chomsky, "Losing" the World
Harrington, Ngabe awakening
Evans, A different kind of Europe
Council on Hemispheric Affairs, A new Falklands/Malvinas war unlikely
Hidalgo, A democratic crisis close to home
Letters to the editor


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