Archive for April, 2013

Freedom is not just another word.

“We had been drifting in the ocean for three days, having no idea where we were. On that last day we heard a plane flying overhead, and the next minute the plane was diving down to fly over us. We were horrified because a few weeks before my father’s two brothers were shot and killed by a plane as they were trying to leave the island by boat like we were. Fearing that this was the end, my father grabbed me and my brother and hugged us, crying and telling us how he loved us all the while praying for God to spare us.”

You can’t read current events today without reading about how our country is moving towards socialism and how our freedoms are slowly eroding around us. It is unbelievable how some in our country seem to embrace that freedom destroying system. Each does so for his own reasons. Communism is only one step down from socialism and either one could be in our future and our failure. God help us if that happens. And for that reason I need to tell this story. It is true. It’s not a story that I read, but the story of a very close friend on mine of many years. Bob Cabral and I, along with a few other close friends have built whole prisons and prison buildings all over North Florida for more years that I want to count. We have spent many hours together in every kind of situation that you can imagine. I have always known that he had escaped from Cuba as a young boy, having heard only a few bits and pieces of it over the years. However, it was not until recently that one of those friends I mention, (Don Dasher), and I finally pulled the whole story out of him when one of our conversations got on freedom. And when I say pulled, that is exactly what we had to do. It was not a story he want to tell. And now I want to share just a small part his story.

As a young boy growing up in Matanzas Cuba, a town about 50 miles east of Havana and on the Gulf of Mexico, life was good. His family was well to do, but that was due only to his father’s hard work. What started as a one man handmade shoe operation turned into the largest shoe factory on the island. The country was ruled by Fulgencio Batista a corrupt and repressive dictator for sure, but economically and socially, Cuba fared rather well. Its standard of living ranked among the highest in Latin America. That all changed when Fidel Castro came to power when Bob was about 10 years old. It was not long until reality set in and the cruelty started.

For Bob it was in school when the powers to be came and said that no one would be allowed to own any businesses, because the country was now communist and the government owns it all. What that really meant was Fidel owned it all. They began to hear stories of how Castro was gradually confiscating all private enterprises. Then one day they showed up at his dad’s factory and demanded his keys, telling him he no longer owned that company. Bob was in another office watching through a window and saw his dad throw his keys at them. That caused the policeman to strike him in the head with the butt of his rifle. Bob came running out to aid his father and the policeman grabbed him by the hair and slung him across the room. So now, the company that his father sacrificed to build from scratch was now owned by Castro.

For six months his father had to go underground, because Castro was putting hundreds of thousands into prison. Cuba has had the largest number of political prisoners, serving the longest and cruelest sentences, ever recorded in this hemisphere, and his father would have been one. While his dad was in hiding, Bob, his mom, sister and brother made do in living in total subjection, where his mom had to go to the Official Government Building and get their ration card for the month. Food rationing was one of the government’s most powerful forms of control, since people preoccupied with sustenance don’t have the time or energy to rebel. On the card was the amount of bread, cheese, flour, sugar, etc. that you were allowed to have for the month depending on the size of your family. The poor were loving it, because El Presidente was taking from the rich and giving it to them. Now where have we heard that before. Family values went out the door. Family, friends and neighbors turn on each other. All children 14 years up were sent to Russia to be indoctrinated for four years. The stories he has heard from family about those that went, and how they came back godless communist is chilling to say the least. He still has family in Cuba that are sold out to that regime.

Then came the day when he was about 12 years old that his father told his family that he was taking his two sons and try to escape to the USA. Because his two brothers lost their lives trying, he would not risk the life of his wife and daughter, tragically dividing his family. Bob broke down remembering how devastated he and his brother were over having to leave them behind. His dad had built a 21 foot boat and had a 45 horse motor on it. At 11PM one night they left for the short distance to the coast, passing by the nuclear missiles pointing at America. Remember the Cuban Missile Crisis? His dad had six friends that was going along and they were on their way also, but their vehicle broke down and they had to take a taxi. The taxi driver decided to come also. That made 10 in that small boat. Somewhere along the way their motor ran out of gas. They then drifted for three days. On that last day when the plane came one of the men with them, thinking that it was coming to kill them took the only pistol they had and put it to his head and Bob’s dad kicked it out of his hand and into the water. They would gladly give their life for freedom, but would not take it themselves. One other man tied a rope around his middle and jumped into the water and push away from the boat, but came back after the plane left.

Later they could see a boat coming at them. It was coming right for them and at the last minute it turned and stopped. Bob said: “Then I saw the American Flag!” After telling us that he all but lost his composure. US Coast Guard had come to the rescue. He knew then that they were going to make it. The USCG Boat took them to Key West Florida. There they found a buyer for the boat and sold it for $450.00. From there they were taken to Miami and put up in hotel. From that point they were on their own. They could not speak the language, had no friends there, and only 450 dollars. From that they started their new life.

A year later his mom bribed a doctor with what little money she had left to declare that she was crazy and that her daughter had a rare disease and they were allowed to leave the country, with nothing but the clothes on their back, on the red Cross Ship the SS Hope when it made it last trip to Havana. The ship sailed to Fort Lauderdale where Bob, his father and brother found them. Reunited once again, the Cabral family became Great Americans. His father always spoke of returning to Cuba, but the closest he came was while flying over by it on his way home from a hospital in Jamaica. Bob has since buried his mom, dad and little brother. Bob said that God spared him for a reason and I agree. He has five children that will insure the Cabral’s carry on their place in history. I understand they are planning to write a book about this. I hope so, because what I’ve written is such a small part of a greater story of why these desperate people risk their lives to escape their homeland and that evil. And to hear Bob tell it, their story was nothing compared to others trying to flee communism.

While socialism and communism may give you “Free stuff,” it will only bring misery and heartache to everyone. As free people we cannot allow the atrocities of Castro to fade from history. We must not forget the evils of Communism and its victims, despite the spin some in Hollywood puts on it. We should run from this utopian deception with all speed. May God be the Glory!

David Butler


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