A Point of View © 1996
Memories Are Made of This
By Paul V. Montesino, Ph.D., MBA, ICCP
In my last article, I commented on my young experience with the theatre and the sad end of my school friend Javier’s life in the hands of Cuban military criminals in December of 1958.
These days, if you visit Belen High School in Miami, Florida, you may see their Martyr’s Wall with a photo of Javier and his biography amongst others considered martyrs as well by the Jesuits who run the school. Life is about living and dying, but it is not necessary to do it so tragically.
But History is complicated. We may not remember it, but History certainly remembers us. The problem is that our forgetfulness may not seem to have consequences, but History’s memory certainly does.
On March 10 of last month, we were silent witnesses to the seventieth anniversary of General Fulgencio Batista’s coup d’état against then President Carlos Prio Socarras, a duly elected head of state who had to leave his office and his country. That such an outrage could take place only months before general elections were supposed to take place made it worse legally and historically.
I do not think that I have the time or the need to list in this article the consequences of that violation of Cuba’s integrity. Unless you have been living in Mars waiting for the next Jeff Bezos’s space capsule to arrive, I am sure you have read or heard about the last seventy years of Batista’s legacy in Cuba. There is an old saying that goes something like this: “there is no evil that lasts a hundred years nor body that can endure it.” I say that seventy years is close enough.
The United States governments at the time did not turn their official faces to avoid looking at such historical violation in their neighborhood of America’s penchant for democratic principles. Until President Dwight D. Eisenhower turned his real face away from Batista at Panama’s Western Hemisphere Conference on July 22, 1956, the Cuban President was convinced that he could do no harm when it came to Washington.
Our friend Javier was only one of the victims who fell under the Batista regime as hundreds and thousands of others did under the Castro communist inspired dictatorship that followed.
I shared with you my own experience on March 13, 1957, when my innocent visit to the Presidential palace to deliver an official document coincided by only minutes with the arrival of a dozen armed guerrillas who invaded the palace looking for Batista to have him killed. Cuba went down the proverbial drain after that attack and the lives who were cheap before became disposable after.
According to the Miami Herald, “more than forty-six thousand Cubans, biggest wave in years, have arrived in the U.S. in five months,” with the majority reaching the U.S. Mexican border trying to cross it.
March 10, 1952, was the historic beginning. Today there is no end to the exodus. We are talking about the grandchildren of those who lived through the coup d’état. I do not know who is remembering, History or us, but I really do not care; it is painful just the same.
And that is my seventy-year-old Point of View today.