Young Cuban-Americans: Castro’s death opens window of change

MIAMI — Isabella Prio was born in Miami, is 20 now and a junior at Boston College who fully expects to return to Cuba someday and help shape the island’s future. But she’s never been to the country where her grandfather was once president and refuses to visit until it’s a democracy.

Cherie Cancio, 29, also was born in Miami and runs tours to the island for young Cuban-Americans eager to explore their heritage.

Two daughters of exile. Both passionate in wanting to affect change in a country that has been in the grasp of the Castro brothers’ authoritarian rule for decades, but very different in their approaches.

For the hundreds of thousands of children like Prio and Cancio born of Cuban exiles — some two and three generations removed from the island — Fidel Castro’s death potentially opens a door to a world long off-limits. Or at the least, it seems to bring it within closer reach.

Millennial Cuban-Americans say Castro’s death at the age of 90 symbolically offers hope for improved dialogue between the countries. Some thought the dialogue had begun under President Barack Obama, who visited Cuba in March. But with President-elect Donald Trump, the future of diplomacy between the two countries is uncertain.

“It’s definitely in the hands of the young people to take it over,” Prio said. “We just have to be careful about how we go about it.”

How that dialogue will unfold is anyone’s guess, and while attitudes are shifting, the community is still divided on the best way to chart a new course for the island — or whether Miami’s exiles even should play a role.

Prio, a finance and marketing student, still won’t visit until the Castro regime steps down, and democracy is restored. For now, she’s disappointed when she sees friends’ photos of Cuba on Instagram and Facebook. Her views are more in line with people her parents’ and grandparents’ age.

“Young Cuban-Americans really want engagement on the island,” said Guillermo Grenier, a professor of sociology at Florida International University in Miami and a lead investigator of the FIU Cuba Poll, an annual poll of Cuban-Americans co-sponsored by the Cuban Research Institute.

Still, said Grenier, “how younger Cuban-Americans feel about Fidel Castro dying is kind of independent” of their interest in engaging with the island.

The most recent Cuba Poll was taken in August. It showed that Cuban-Americans ages 18 to 39 are disenchanted with the embargo, desire expanded business opportunities and favor the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries.

“There’s been a shift of millennial Cuban-Americans, who are more open to President Obama’s policies,” says Cancio, whose father reached Florida on the Mariel Boatlift in the 1980s.

She admits that the children of exiles grapple with wanting to learn about their heritage while being respectful of their parents’ struggles. Many millennials want to go to Cuba but are hesitant to do so out of respect for their parents’ position that the Castro regime must relinquish power and democracy installed before any substantial engagement.

“We all respect the sacrifices and the history of our parents, especially those of us from Miami,” she said.

That’s why she believes in educating Cuban-Americans, while building bridges with folks in Cuba.

“We want Cuban Americans to visit Cuba, experience it, talk about it, and think about what an emerging Cuba means for them and their communities in the U.S.,” reads the website of CubaOne, Cancio’s nonprofit.

Still, Cancio doesn’t believe that she, or the Miami-born children of exiles, has a role to play in reshaping Cuba. That’s up to the people on the island, she says.

“I have the freedom here to support whatever policies I want. I don’t know I should have that freedom in another country, even if my father was born there.”

Javier Gonzalez, a 21-year-old University of Miami junior, feels that Cuba is his birthright. His father came from Cuba and hasn’t returned. Gonzalez also hasn’t visited.

“A free Cuba or nothing,” said Gonzalez, who is majoring in political science, economics and aquaculture.

Gonzalez attended Belen Jesuit Preparatory School in Miami — a private school that was once in Havana, only to be seized after Castro took power and expelled from the island.

Castro himself was a 1944 graduate of the school. Gonzalez says many of his teachers knew Castro or studied with him, and the exile experience permeated daily high school life, as it did for him at home.

Each day while walking to his Latin American studies class, Gonzalez would pass the wall of martyrs, a photographic journey of all the alumni who died fighting “for a higher cause,” including attempting to oust Castro. Many were political prisoners under the Castro regime.

 

Gonzalez thinks of Cuba as his home, and someday, of returning to what he calls “paradise lost.”

Castro’s death “isn’t equivalent to liberty, but it’s a step toward liberty,” says Gonzalez.

When news of Castro’s death broke, he texted Prio, his friend. They and their high school friends who were home for the Thanksgiving break knew where to meet up: Cafe Versailles in Little Havana, with its signs that say “La Casa del Exilio,” or, “house of the exiles.”

Prio, who has friends at her school in Boston who questioned her jubilation over Castro’s death, tried to explain her feelings.

“He’s not a human being, he’s a monster,” she said. “It’s perfectly acceptable to celebrate his death.”

Said Gonzales: “it’s not celebrating death, it’s celebrating the life that could be.”

Prio’s grandfather, Carlos Prio Socarras, was president of Cuba from 1948 until 1952, when Fulgencio Batista organized a coup and overthrew the government. Socarras fled the country and backed Castro financially; it was the worst decision of his life, he later said.

Like Gonzalez, Prio believes she will someday go to Cuba and hopes to play a part in its rebuilding.

ad-high_impact_4
News
Man killed during road-rage incident
Las Vegas police are looking for two men involved in the shooting death of a man outside a 7-Eleven story at Bonanza Road and Maryland Parkway on Nov. 12, 2018. (Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department)
VA Southern Nevada Healthcare System hosts Veterans Day Car Show and BBQ
The 4th Annual Veterans Day Car Show and BBQ is held in celebration of Veterans Day at the VA Southern Nevada Healthcare System Medical Center in North Las Vegas, Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018. (Caroline Brehman/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Wildfires in Southern California
Wildfires hit Ventura County, Calif., on Nov. 9, 2018. (Richard Brian/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Dedication of Nevada's Battle Born memorial
The state of Nevada on Friday dedicated its Battle Born memorial honoring 895 state residents who have died in America’s wars.
Las Vegas police and Sunrise Children's Hospital hope to prevent infant deaths
The Metropolitan Police Department and Sunrise Children's Hospital held a press conference to get the message out on preventable infant deaths attributed to "co-sleeping" and other unsafe sleeping habits. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
No serious injuries after car hits tree in south Las Vegas
One person reported minor injuries but wasn’t hospitalized after a Wednesday morning crash in the south valley.
Nellis Air Force Base keeps airmen fed
Nellis Air Force Bass airmen have delicious and healthy food items, and a variety of dining facilities to choose from. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Suspicious package found at central Las Vegas post office
Las Vegas police determined that a suspicious package found Monday morning at a central valley post office was not a threat.
Suspicious package found at central Las Vegas post office
Police evacuated the area around the Garside Station post office early Monday morning near Oakey and Decatur boulevards.
With husband's passing, family in limbo for workers' comp claim
Meredith Tracy's husand, Russell Tracy, died more than a year ago on his first day working for a new company when he fell 22 feet into a manhole that was not properly safeguarded. His employer was fined $82,000 in penalties for unsafe practices, but the company has denied her workers' compensation claim, leaving her with no compensation since the death. Rachel Aston Las Vegas Review-Journal @rookie__rae
With husband's passing, family in limbo for workers' comp claim
Meredith Tracy's husand, Russell Tracy, died more than a year ago on his first day working for a new company when he fell 22 feet into a manhole that was not properly safeguarded. His employer was fined $82,000 in penalties for unsafe practices, but the company has denied her workers' compensation claim, leaving her with no compensation since the death. Rachel Aston Las Vegas Review-Journal @rookie__rae
Las Vegas family shares flu warning
Carlo and Brenda Occhipinti lost their son, Carlo Jr., or “Junior,” to the flu last year.
Author Randall Cannon shares an anecdote about Stadust Raceway
Author Randall Cannon shares an anecdote about Dan Blocker, who played Hoss Cartwright on the TV show "Bonanza," and the actor's passion for auto racing at Stardust International Raceway in Las Vegas during the 1960s. (Ron Kantowski/Las Vegas Review-Journal.)
Project Neon 85 percent complete
On Wednesday morning Oct. 31, Interstate 15 northbound lane restrictions were removed opening up Exit 41 to Charleston Blvd. On Thursday Nov. 1, Interstate 15 southbound lane restrictions were removed. The new southbound off-ramp to Sahara Ave. and Highland Dr. also opened Thursday, November 1. With Project Neon 85% finished the flow of traffic on Interstate 15 has substantially diminished. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Girl killed after jumping from bridge onto 215 Beltway in Henderson
Eastbound lanes of the 215 Beltway are shut down by the Nevada Highway Patrol after a female juvenile jumped from the 215 overpass at Stephanie and was struck by a FedEx tractor trailer. Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal @Vegas88s
Kristallnacht story
An interview with 94-year-old Holocaust survivor Alexander Kuechel who survived seven concentration camps and didn’t leave Germany until after World War II was over. (Mia Sims/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
1 dead in central Las Vegas crash
An early Wednesday morning crash left at least one person dead and another injured. The crash was reported just around 3 a.m. at the intersection of Flamingo Road and Swenson Street. At least two vehicles were involved in the crash, one of which caught fire. Debris was scattered across the intersection as police combed the area as they investigated the scene. Flamingo is blocked in both directions between Swenson and Cambridge Street. Northbound Swenson is blocked at the intersection.
Richard Knoeppel named the 2018 Nevada Teacher of the Year
Richard Knoeppel, an architecture design instructor at the Advanced technologies Academy, named the 2018 Nevada Teacher of the Year on Monday, Oct. 29, 2018. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Mojave Poppy Bees
(Zach Portman/University of Minnesota Department of Entomology) Male Mojave poppy bees exhibit territorial fighting behavior. The Center for Biological Diversity wants the bee, found only in Clark County, to be added to the endangered species list.
Clark County Schools announce random searches
Clark County School District middle and high school students will be subject to random searches for weapons under a new initiative to combat the wave of guns found on campus. (Amelia Pak-Harvey/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ron Jeremy and Heidi Fleiss React to Dennis Hof's Death
Ron Jeremy and Heidi Fleiss speak about their friend and prominent brothel owner Dennis Hof's death at Dennis Hof's Love Ranch. (Benjamin Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada brothel owner Dennis Hof has died
Nevada brothel owner and Republican candidate for Nevada State Assembly District 36, Dennis Hof has died. He was 72. Nye County Sherriff's office confirmed. Hof owned Love Ranch brothel, located in Crystal, Nevada.
Las Vegas police investigate suspicious package at shopping center
Las Vegas police evacuated a southeast valley shopping center at Flamingo and Sandhill roads early Tuesday morning while they investigated reports of a suspicious package. (Max Michor/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Las Vegas Metro hosts the K-9 Trials
The Las Vegas Metro K-9 Trials returns to the Orleans Arena to benefit the Friends For Las Vegas Police K-9 group.
Kingman residents love their little town
Residents of Kingman, Ariz. talk about how they ended up living in the Route 66 town, and what they love about their quiet community. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Service at Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery
Twelve unclaimed veterans are honored at Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Boulder City in Oct. 9, 2018. (Briana Erickson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas house prices reach highest level in 11 years
Las Vegas house prices are rising But so is the amount of available homes on the market Still, properties priced below $300,000 are selling fast And September was the first time since June 2007 that the median house price reached the $300,000 mark Las Vegas home prices have been rising at one of the fastest rates in the country over the past year Recent data show the market is now less affordable than the national average
National Night Out
About 100 Summerlin residents gathered at Park Centre Dr. in Summerlin on Tuesday for National Night Out. Lt. Joshua Bitsko with Las Vegas Metro, played with 3-year-old David who was dressed as a police officer. Face painting, fire truck tours and more kept kids busy as parents roamed behind them. (Mia Sims/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Rural homeless issue comes to a head in Pahrump
On Sept. 12, Pahrump sheriff deputies told residents of a homeless encampment on private property that they had 15 minutes to vacate and grab their belongings. That decision might face some legal consequences. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Remembrance blood drive on October 1
A blood drive was held at the Las Vegas Convention Center on the one year anniversary of the Oct. 1 shooting. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
ad-infeed_1
ads_infeed_2
Local Spotlight
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like