Family Ties

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My family lives on the outskirts of Santa Clara in an old run down farmhouse on a piece of land where we farm to make our living. In this household is my mother, father, my three brothers, and I. I am the youngest of the four siblings at the age of 17 and have been farming since I was young. My face, from the dirt stains that will always be on my face until the day I die, to the scars that leave rigid gorges on my cheek symbolize farming. Being as tall and as strong as I am it tends to make me a very valuable asset on the farm. As a poor family we don’t ever have the money to pay for our taxes for the month, let alone buy food for the family. Living conditions are poor under Batista’s rule, because the government does not support our families health care or our schooling. This always leads us to being in debt to my mother’s parents who are quite wealthy and can afford the best of the finer things. There was a rift in the two sides of our family which seemed to widen with every waking moment. This which divided us was the fact that my father’s side of the family were revolutionaries, but my mother’s side were sided with Batista.

Word of a rising revolution began to spread through Cuba and as tension began to rise so did Batista’s paranoia. Arrest rates were at extremes as more and more people were being accused of turning into revolutionaries. Batista’s secret police had no tolerance for revolutionaries that threatened his regime. Every night before I’d go to bed I couldn’t help but hear the angry conversations between my mother and father, riddled with hidden threats of leaving and ending the marriage. I feared for the worst as I lay in the dark pondering of the future. The next day my brother mysteriously disappeared. July 26th, was the day the revolution became apparently clear to everyone in Cuba. Fidel Castro led 160 men to the barracks at Moncada and there many of them met their deaths. Amongst those men, was my brother. News of my brothers death reached my family and we were outraged that Batista could slaughter all those men. However, something else happened which was unexpected. My cousin who was 18 years of age and grew up on my mother’s side of the family also died, but he was fighting for Batista.

After the two parts of my family were forced to split from each other, me and my brothers were forced to get jobs that could help pay for the family. Reasons being we had no steady source of income coming in from my father after my mother’s family had him fired. To make matters worse, General Batista was beginning a crack down on all revolutionaries or possible conspirators in Cuba. Now of course my mother’s side of the family was safe, for they were great supporters of Batista and his regime. Living with my father ensured that I would not be judged of my standing position in the revolutionary movement, but it also meant that there was no safety.
About 10 days after the divide that separated my family the tension that Batista had created was growing worse and worse. During the tenth day I was working at my job where I helped dig and plant crops. The normality of the day was quite surprising, nobody was arrested and no protests were in session. Returning home that feeling of surprise relief faded in an instant. Walking up the dirt road to my house which was far from the paved roads, I could swear I heard cars. As it turns out I did and they were not any cars, they were the cars drove by General Batista’s police force. As the seconds began to pass it started to feel like minutes before I took my next step. The second I did there was a crack which rang my ear drums. A gunshot? No it couldn’t have been. Before I finished my thoughts two more loud cracks came from my shack of a house. I somehow managed to escape the police. It was quite obvious that my dad and brothers were dead.

Years after the horrific event, I moved in with my mother. We were having a family gathering for New Years Eve when one of my Uncles spoke to me. “It’s a shame that your father was killed just before Castro came to power,” he boasted with a sense of accomplishment. He continued by saying “but at least you’re coming to America with us. You should be glad your mother turned your father in to Batista.” My heart dropped and I had just realized that the truth after all these years had been concealed from me, by my mother.





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