I was born and raised in Havana, Cuba. My family supported Castro and by the time they realized he was a dictator, it was too late. I was forced to work in the concentration camps.
I left Cuba for Miami in 1971 and went from Miami to Boston where my mother’s cousin invited us to live with her. “Come and live with us. Reglita will learn English,” she said. So that is what we did. I moved to the Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston – across the street from Mozart Park.
It was the hippie era and young couples were making out on the Boston Common. I was horrified. Seeing so much freedom was a bit scary. But I came to this county for the right to express myself. I wanted to become a citizen the minute I set foot in this country and to exercise my right to vote. I immediately immersed myself in the culture, eager to learn the American “way.” I also have preserved my heritage. I am proud to be a Cuban American.
During the winter, I missed Havana. Looking at Mozart Park during the winter storms used to make me teary-eyed. I felt lonely. I missed my country (and still do). But I felt at home in Jamaica Plain as there were lots of Puerto Ricans and Cubans. I enlightened a lot of people who wanted to hear the truth about my country.
I got an administrative job at John Hancock and a month later became a supervisor. I also worked at the Brigham & Women’s Hospital as an interpreter. I moved on because I could not stand the way Latinos were treated. We went through the busing era, but we all survived!
I started working at Boston City Hall for Mayor Kevin White’s administration in 1982 as a district manager, lending money to Latinos who wanted to develop their own businesses. I respected Kevin White because he had a solid base in Boston. I remember being in Roberto Clemente Park working on community festivals and events and registering people to vote. I strongly believe that through your vote you can change the world.
In 1983, Ray Flynn was elected Mayor of Boston. He loved the Latino community and Puerto Ricans were respected. They filled a variety of positions in city government.
In the late 1980’s, I became involved with LULAC and Raising the Cuban Flag at Boston City Hall. It is symbolic for us to have our flag raised in the land of freedom. I supported Charlie Baker for Governor. He has tremendous respect for us as a community. He is a Republican who has hired a lot of Democrats to work for him. He does not look at someone’s political party affiliation; he looks at the individual.
I came to this country because I have always been a lover of the truth. I have always spoken my mind. I am very loyal to my beliefs and that is one thing that has not changed and never will. If I could have changed anything, I would have fought to come to the USA earlier in my life.
I love the United States of America and am proud of what this country has offered us Latinos. Teach your children your language, about your heritage, and how beautiful we all are.
If I could do it, anyone can.