(USA TODAY) – Two years after Fidel Castro’s takeover of Cuba in 1959, Margarita De Castro was in trouble.
The communist government was imposing its will across the island, and picketers demanded the young telephone operator face a firing squad after she was accused of setting fire to Havana’s largest department store. Terrified, she snuck out of her job at the telephone company where protesters were gathered and called her father, who paid $8,000 for someone to forge the date on her expired passport. She fetched some clothes and her diamond ring from an armoire in her home, kissed her newborn son goodbye and boarded a flight to Miami. Alone and penniless, she began her life in the United States, working at a Miami Beach hotel, eventually becoming a banker and raising four sons on her own.
The 79-year-old refugee said her experience in Cuba drove her to become a Republican, voting for the GOP in almost every election since becoming a citizen in 1972. She never seriously felt that communism could follow her to the United States – until the 2020 presidential election.