Cuban exiles honor victims of Castro regime at somber rally

MIAMI (WSVN) - They had stories to tell about people they hold dear, and on Sunday, at least 150 Cuban exiles came together to remember those who could not be there to experience this momentous time in the history of their home country.

A wreath laid at the foot of the Cuban Memorial in Tamiami Park served as a symbol to push for change in the island nation.

Barbara Grant was among those who came to witness Sunday’s solemn ceremony, and she told 7News she was thinking about those who were unable to flee. “The people that were tortured, the people that died trying to escape the island,” she said.

Ibrahim Sanchez came to honor is mother, who, he said, was imprisoned three times when he was a child.

Barbara Grant, Ibrahim Sanchez
Barbara Grant, Ibrahim Sanchez

Sanchez became emotional as he described how he watched her being taken away for taking a stand against the Castro regime. “I said, ‘Mom, where are you going?’ She said, ‘Don’t worry about it. I’m going away, far away.”

The service was held mostly in Spanish, but it was celebrated with both the Cuban and American national anthems to honor an adopted homeland.

Organizers with the Cuban resistance said they wanted Sunday’s event to take place on the same day Fidel Castro was buried. “We want the world to know what this criminal did, the pain he inflicted, the horrors he carried out,” said Dr. Orlando Gutierrez-Boronat of the Cuban Democratic Directorate.

The Cuban Memorial at Tamiami Park honors hundreds upon hundreds who died trying to escape the island nation.

Enrique Albarinas came to find the name of his father, the man he last saw when he was just 2 years old.

He broke down in tears when he tried to convey the toll his father’s absence took on him. “I miss him so much. I mean, it’s hard to grow up with no father,” he said.

Albarinas said he hopes that Castro’s death will lead to the kind of significant change he’s been waiting for his entire life. “I will not go back to Cuba — my land, the country I was born — until that regime becomes democratic again, until we get a new democratic system,” he said.

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