Monday, April 26, 2010

Cuban refugees flee Castro regime; some now live in Coachella Valley

Cuban refugees flee Castro regime; some now live in Coachella Valley
Nicole C. Brambila • The Desert Sun • April 26, 2010

The attackers wore brass knuckles to Catholic Mass and carried a steel
bar wrapped in a newspaper.

"They hit the hell out of me," said Marcos Moro, who fled Cuba in 1961
after he was brutally beaten in church. "My father-in-law told me, 'You
have to run. Forget about change.'"

More painful than the blows to his head: One of the assailants was his
cousin's husband.

"It's difficult to find a family that's not been divided," said Moro,
who today lives in Indio.

He hasn't been back to Cuba except for an unsuccessful attempt to
smuggle out his family in 1965.

Moro came to the U.S. with a silver dollar in his pocket, a bottle of
rum and box of Cuban cigars.

His father said, "Son, sell it. Get political asylum."

Since 1959, Cubans have fled their country in waves on homemade rafts,
falsified visas and direct flights.

An estimated 500,000 Cubans who now live in the U.S. have fled Cuba
since Fidel Castro came into power, according to the Pew Hispanic
Center, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization that conducts
research on Latinos and their impact. The majority live in Florida, but
about 70,000 live in California.

Moro said he hopes to return one day to a Castro-free Cuba.

"I have a strong pain in my soul," Moro said. "I miss my country now
more than 50 years ago. I would like to see them free."

Many Cubans share his sentiment, especially since the Cuban police broke
up a peaceful protest in March by a group of women known as Las Damas de
Blanco (Ladies in White). Some media reports say the women were beaten
by police.

Las Damas de Blanco are the wives of political dissidents imprisoned in
a government crackdown in 2003. More than 50 of the detainees were
journalists and human right activists and remain imprisoned, according
to Amnesty International.

Cubans have protested the police action in Miami and Los Angeles.

Moro and his wife, Daisy, last month attended the Los Angeles
demonstration organized by actor Andy Garcia.

Cubans had high hopes that the president's younger brother, Raúl Castro,
would dismantle the dictatorship when he assumed power two years ago.

Political pundits say that's highly unlikely now.

"I think there was the hope when Raúl first took over, but we haven't
seen any major policy shifts," said Benjamin Bishin, a UCR political
science professor whose area of study focuses on Cuban-American policy.

"I don't think there's much reason to think they are going to change."

Dr. Denio Fonseca, a Miami physician and organizer, said there are plans
for more demonstrations.

"We plan to be in Cuba this year," he said.

Daisy and Marcos Moro, who travel to Miami once a year to be closer to
Cuba, are trusting he's right.

"It's just a timing thing," Daisy Moro said. "People are tired and they
want change. It's been 51 years."

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