chapter  1
30 Pages

Immigrants and the Weight of Their Past

On January 1, 1959, Cuba’s then-president, Fulgencio Batista, fled the country. He was a military man, whose government mainly protected and advanced the concerns of the upper and middle classes. His notoriously corrupt government was known to torture opponents. Disrespecting the 1940 Constitution and the country’s 1944 election, Batista governed autocratically in the 1950s. The social order his government protected was conservative and highly stratified. Those who were born rich and poor, light-or dark-skinned, in the city or the countryside, had very different lifestyles, opportunities, and lived experiences.