University of Nevada, Reno

 

HOMESTORIESCOMING TO AMERICA

 

Coming from Cuba, with love 

By Minerva

 

MinervaI grew up in Labana, Cuba. Both my grandmothers had businesses in Havana. I went to a private school, and my sister and brother did, too. There were separate schools for boys and girls. I studied business management.

 

My grandmother was very kind. Late at night, townspeople would come to ask for help, and she would never say no. All my life, I tried to help all people, too.

 

My daughter was about 10 or 12 when we moved to Baltimore. I consider Baltimore my second home. The same year that Fidel Castro took over, we left, because there was no liberty. We didn’t have the freedom to speak or buy something. He had taken properties of other people. He is a dictator and had control of everything.

 

We brought just the clothes on our back. We left everything—from the house to the mop. Two people from Castro’s regime came and told us we had to leave, so we left. Just me and my daughter were at home when those men came. We went outside and they locked the house up, leaving the family’s things inside. My husband was at work. Luckily, everyone had a U.S. passport, because we would travel back and forth.

 

Everyone came to the U.S. Within six months, everyone I knew came here and left everything they had—my aunts, uncles. My family, my aunts, they lived in Miami, but I didn’t. And everyone worked until they died.

 

When we came over, we had just the clothes on our back. Now there are four doctors in our family. We came a long ways from there. One is my granddaughter, an ob/gyn here, and we have three doctors in Miami. My aunts in Miami were doctors—three older women already. One of them was the decorator for a hotel. Two of them retired and when they did, they tried to get the decorator to retire, but her boss said no, he would like to keep her because she was so good. She passed away decorating. We would always tease her because she was old and working.

 

We never had help from the government. We started working. I never worked until we came here, and then I started working. I used to wash hair at a hair salon. And from there, I became a cosmetologist.

 

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