Franco’s Spain…or Roll the Dice on Cuba or Russia

Jim Hernandez's father age 22 and grandparents Madrid, Spain 1950

How a grandfather’s love of country ended up being the best choice- not knowing what was to become of Cuba    

 

Photo above: Jaime “Jim” Hernandez’s father age 22 and his grandparents Madrid, Spain circa 1950

Cuba, Russia or Spain, How My Grandfather’s Love for His Country Ended Up Being the Best Choice- Not Knowing What Was to become of Cuba    

On April 1, 1939 the Spanish Civil War ended for my grandfather; he was 42 and married with three children. Like many Spaniards at the time, he told me the story of the difficult choice he had to make.

The story passed down

According to the story he shared with me at the age of 83, the choices for most Spanish families were to go to Russia (which he did not consider), move to Cuba, or stay in Spain.

He said many people who were part of the Republican Army left Spain. They knew life would be difficult under the new fascist military leadership of General Francisco Franco, and so they chose in many cases to leave their country for Cuba.

He thought it was a most tempting choice. It was a Spanish speaking nation with a great climate, and the stories of opportunity with the move were exciting. It all boiled down to how much he loved his country and that even though he knew life might be tough, he chose Spain for his family.

The executive secretary to the president of the Spanish oil company, CAMSA

My grandfather was the executive secretary to the president of the Spanish oil company, CAMSA. With this type of position, he was given a military appointment while keeping his job. He found out as General Franco took over that people who fought against him would keep their jobs, but would see no promotions or raises for at least five years.

His family already lived a fairly modest life in a three-room apartment near the center of Madrid, but he loved his Spain and was glad the war was over.

What might have happened if he had chosen to leave Spain and gone to Cuba

Then he reflected on what might have happened if he had chosen to leave Spain and gone to Cuba.

He talked about how he felt as he heard about what had happened in Cuba in 1959. First, there was another short war. A new military leader took over, but this time it became a Communist country. He understood it made for a much more difficult situation for Cuban residents after their change, versus what he had experienced in Spain.

Next- In our conversation, my grandfather reflected on his choice.

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