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  • For Hispanic Heritage Month, the speaker offers a personal immigrant tale.

For Hispanic Heritage Month, the speaker offers a personal immigrant tale.

September 24, 20225 Mins Read

speaker offers |Visiting Speaker On September 20 at the Frontier Conference Center, Maj. José Enriquez, an observer, coach, and trainer with the Mission Command Training Program, discussed the influence of his upbringing in Cuba and 1980 immigration to the United States on the Mariel Boat Lift.

From September 15 through October 15 is National Hispanic Heritage Month, which honours the heritage and achievements of people of Hispanic and Latino descent. The month-long observance was instituted in 1988 by President Ronald Regan and builds on a week-long acknowledgment started in 1968 by President Lyndon Johnson. It commemorates the days that Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Mexico, and Chile gained their independence.

In order to explain the wave of immigration that brought his family to the United States, Enriquez began his speech by educating the audience on Cuban history and the island’s closeness to Key West, Florida.

He said that the previously open economy of Cuba, which offered prospects for employment, property rights, and upward mobility, belonged to a corrupt administration run by the aristocratic military dictator Fulgencio Batista. On January 1, 1959, Fidel Castro overthrew Batista and transformed the Cuban people, establishing a Marxist-Leninist one-party socialist nation.

Enriquez and his family resided close to the Port of Mariel, a deep-water port approximately an hour from Havana, in Cuba in the 1970s. Enriquez stated that the ration system, which is still in use today, was implemented two years into Castro’s leadership when households began receiving annual supply booklets called Libretas de Abastecimiento depending on the size and age of each family. Toys, according to Enriquez, were likewise limited. He said that in order to preserve a portion of the family’s land, which included a vegetable garden, fruit trees, and sugar cane that helped feed his family, his grandpa “donated” area to the neighbourhood administration.

Around 20 years later, according to Enriquez, the Cuban government systematically targeted anyone associated with a counterrevolution or who disagreed with Castro. Five Cubans drove a bus over the Peruvian embassy’s fence on April 1, 1980, asking for refuge. As a result, police from both countries traded gunfire, hastening the mass exodus. speaker offers Castro asked other countries to take in Cubans he considered undesirable after removing the guards there and more than 10,000 Cubans rushed into the Peruvian embassy in search of refuge.

As soon as the government learned that you intended to leave Cuba, you were branded a “Traitor to the Revolution” and referred to as “escoria” (or “scum”). Your work would be terminated, your ration card would be taken away, and you would be dismissed from school right away. Additionally, whatever property you possessed had already been inventoried and stolen by the government by the time you departed the Port of Mariel. Additionally, the Cuban government orchestrated retaliatory actions against people who wanted to leave the country, according to Enriquez.

“My Cuban passport shows that my immigrant visa was stamped on May 13, 1980, the day we left, but I was not in-processed in Key West until May 18, 1980. When I asked my dad and oldest sister if they could explain the gap, they said that it was because we were lost at sea for three or four days. speaker offers I had first believed it was because of a procedural delay in Key West. It seems out that immediately after leaving the Port of Mariel, we encountered a severe rainstorm, during which the skipper became disoriented, stated Enriquez. “

Enriquez said that in order to exit in-processing, newly arrived immigrants needed a sponsor. After arriving in Key West without being claimed, his family relocated into the Miami Orange Bowl stadium after five days. After spending a month at the Miami Orange Bowl without a sponsor, Enriquez and his family moved into a tent city beneath the I-95 overpass. He characterised the refugee camp as unsafe; he said that rape and other crimes, as well as violence, were frequent.

He stated that after another month, a distant cousin took custody of his family and they went to Hialeah, Florida, where they remained until his parents relocated the family to an apartment building.

“That apartment building was the hub of a particularly violent and gang-infested Hialeah in the early 1980s. It was given the moniker “Vietnam” because it was so deadly. speaker offers Anyone in Miami who heard you say that you were from “Vietnam” would immediately understand what you meant, according to Enriquez.

Throughout the most of the 1980s, we changed apartments before the deposit month (money) ran out. Back then, you weren’t asked to leave and then hauled to court; instead, cops violently removed you from the location, throwing your belongings disrespectfully onto the street.

He expressed his disgust at the location while remaining appreciative of his current situation.
Life was nice despite all of that, and we had no complaints. We were appreciative of the plentiful monthly ration of government food, especially because we also received food stamps. We consumed an entire block of cheese in a month, according to Enriquez.

“When I was a child, the Cuban community stigmatised receiving food assistance. We quietly thanked them for their help. Having it no longer be necessary for your family was a source of pride. speaker offers We were only appreciative of the opportunity to live in a place where there is freedom and opportunity, but we also understood we had to fit in and show ourselves.
On the day of the Challenger’s launch, Enriquez recalls seeing the 1986 catastrophe and becoming upset.

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