“My family left Cuba in the sixties – well the kids left. My sister was 16, my brother was 13, and I was 10. Dad put us on a plane and shipped us off to Mexico to a distant relative…Eventually, a year later, he was able to get out and he turned in all his property. He had a little grocery store and he turned over the keys…when he went to turn in the car he was told, “you gotta put on new tires before you turn in that car.” We’re extremely grateful to this country. We’ve always been. I think that’s why my kids decided to serve. My son is a veteran, having served as an Infantry Officer, after graduating from West Point. My daughter has been serving as a JAG in the Coast Guard since 2010. Because they wanted to pay back on our behalf.
The older generation, my generation, is mostly Republican. Forties and up; maybe fifties and up. My thought is that it’s because of that whole Bay of Pigs thing that happened back in ‘62 when Cubans here organized to invade Cuba. Kennedy and Khrushchev reached an agreement to destroy the missiles in Cuba. But those American-Cubans were already on the shores and they were promised air support from the US and they were left on the shores without support. It was like they were betrayed by Kennedy, who was a Democrat. And also, I think, trying to get as far away as possible from the Communists. Oh no, we don’t wanna go left, we wanna go right. Extreme right.
Since I registered at 18, I was a Republican. My Dad was a Republican… I wasn’t paying attention that much. After I retired, you know how you reorganize your life? You know, what is it that’s really important in my life? That’s one of the things that I started thinking about. I started reading a little more about each party and what they stood for, and I started thinking, you know I really align more with the thoughts of the Democrats…The more I thought about it—of course I’m a science teacher and thinking about the environment and the importance of protecting our planet and—all of these things.
I said, “Dad—Dad’s been gone for 20 years; he’s in my heart every day—Dad, I think you would agree with me at this point.” I decided I’m going to go and register Democrat. Because that’s what I feel in my heart. That’s the way things should go.I was shaped by my father a lot. I looked up to him. I still do, tremendously. He was ethical, hard-working, cared for others deeply, cared for his family. I know that if he was still here with us, he would not be supportive of this President or what’s going on in the nation. He was extremely grateful to America for allowing him to raise his children with the opportunities that were given.” –
— Rebeca Zambrano, retired teacher of 33 years, Cuban-American
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