Exiles, not immigrants

Dan Le Batard’s reflection in the midst of President Obama’s Cuban visit:

Understand something, please: My parents are exiles, not immigrants. There is an enormous difference. They didn’t come to this country looking for money. They left money behind and came here to risk poverty. They did so because they were exiled from a land they didn’t want to leave and still miss, a land they will not visit until this regime is ousted or they see real change that can be trusted. My grandmother put my mother on a plane believing they might see each other again in three months. It took 12 years. Grandma put her on a plane because she couldn’t stomach the idea of both of her children being in jail at once — her son for his politics, her daughter for trying to go to church to honor the dead. Days after she fled, three militia members with machine guns broke into the house at 3 a.m. looking for my mother. Grandma is dead.

I’m supportive of the end of our Cuban embargo. It hasn’t worked. But we often struggle to reconcile with those we’ve been closest to, and both geographically and historically speaking we’ve been close with Cuba. The stories of so many of her people—so many of her exiles—are now the stories of our people.

A gift Cubans and Americans can exchange beyond capitalism is memory of the lives lived on both shores since July 26th.

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