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Letters to the Editor: Pay attention America! Our freedoms are being taken away!

On October 16, my life was changed forever.

That was the day that my grandmother and I arrived in the United States from Cuba with only the clothes on our backs. It was both exciting and sad, for my parents and sister were not allowed to leave and I would not see them again for a year. We left behind a life of fear and oppression. My grandfather escaped a year earlier in a homemade boat and worked hard to get us out of the island. He had to leave in a hurry and under the cover of darkness, as he was going to be arrested by the communist regime. The day after he escaped, armed soldiers confiscated our farm and we were not allowed back in. My father was also anti-communist; they took his job away because he refused to cut sugarcane, which was mandatory for the "good of the party.” We were branded "gusanos" or "worms." Our food was rationed, we were not allowed outside after 6 p.m. and were constantly harassed and threatened with the firing squad by militia men posted on our block. My parents took me out of school, since all children were being indoctrinated in the communist ways.

They were brainwashing us to spy on our parents and turn them in if they were counter revolutionaries. All churches were closed and pictures of Marx and Lenin replaced crucifixes and pictures of Jesus. I am proud and blessed to be an American and will always be grateful for being able to live free and raise my children in the greatest country on Earth. But, never knowing anything but freedom has made a lot of people in this country apathetic as to what is happening. With their heads buried in their smartphones, they are not paying attention to what is going on in our country. In Cuba, we lost the freedoms that we enjoyed in the blink of an eye. Cuban citizens were not allowed to have guns, so when the government came to lead them to the firing squad, all those helpless souls that were slaughtered because they disagreed with communism had no way to fight back. We were not allowed to vote, worship or voice our opinion if it did not coincide with the government's view. We were not allowed to travel, congregate or read books that were not approved and all phone calls were monitored.

This is why I opposed Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders and the current administration's liberal, socialist, communist agenda! Thank you America for allowing me to write Cuba, I would be arrested.

Juan Botino

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