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104 people were on board.
As much as I craved my mother's warm embrace, the smell of the sea and the happy moments that I did share with my partner in our home, I couldn't help but wonder if my homophobic attackers were still around. And that uncertainty - coupled with the fact that our love is still considered a crime there - was my wake-up call.
As the number American-based airlines traveling to Cuba increase, the rumors circulate even faster. Stories of hoards of American tourists flocking to otherwise tranquil beaches and lavish resorts are butting bed and breakfasts out of the way and cruise ships are flocking there in droves from Miami. While most of the stories you hear are probably just tall tales, the following are five reasons why you shouldn't put off your bucket-list trip to Cuba.
The long years of communist leadership in Cuba and the violation of human rights, specifically the attacks on freedom, have pushed many to pursue a life elsewhere. The way I saw it, there weren't any reasons to be proud.
I am a part of this country. So is my father. So is my mother. Do not erase our experiences. Do not claim that you can separate one aspect of this man from all the others. My family did not escape from under the foot of a dictator to live in a country where its leader praises and celebrates that same dictator.
The problem is that, by monochromatically portraying Fidel Castro simply as a brutal dictator -- full stop -- the western media has had to do pretzel-twists to explain away the reality of why so many people in Cuba, Latin America and, indeed, much of the developing world do see him as an heroic, larger than life figure, whose passing is a cause for sadness while his legacy is reason for celebration.
It would appear that this is a potent form of immunity, a kind of magical cloak that can make any crime, no matter how heinous, invisible to a certain kind of person pre-programmed to be sympathetic to anyone who uses the word "America" and "imperialism" in the same sentence.
Fidel Castro was no saint. He was a cruel dictator who oppressed and terrorized the Cuban people for nearly 50 years. Anybody who remembers him fondly is ignoring his trail of human rights violations, while openly supporting a communist regime.
Thanks to right-wing anti-Cuba propaganda, politicians on the left run for cover when asked for an opinion on Castro. The latest shameful example was furnished by interim NDP Leader Tom Mulcair. Is it any wonder that Justin Trudeau ate the NDP's lunch during the 2015 federal election, and continues to do so?