ICYMI: Curbelo Shares His Family's Immigration Story, His Experience Growing Up in a Cuban-American Household

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Miami, Florida, August 22, 2017 | Joanna Rodriguez (202-225-2778) | comments

Representative Carlos Curbelo (FL-26) recently sat down with The Washington Post to discuss what it was like growing up in a Cuban-American family and how he is passing on that heritage to his daughters.

Curbelo spoke of his parent’s decision to flee from Cuba after Fidel Castro’s Revolution, their involvement in the anti-Castro resistance, and his deep appreciation for the Cuban-American culture that has reinforced his patriotism and gratitude for the opportunities the United States offered his family.

Other House members who appeared in the multimedia series were: Rep. Henry Cuellar (TX-28), Rep. Grace Napolitano (CA-32), Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-18), and Rep. Juan Vargas (CA- 51). 

Read the print story below and watch segments of the interview on Curbelo’s YouTube channel or by clicking on the photos below.

Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.)
The Washington Post
By Elise Viebeck
August 9, 2017

Curbelo, 37, was born in Miami to parents from Havana and Matanzas, Cuba. He was eleccted to the House in 2014.

Two decades had passed since their families left Cuba, but when it came to their son, Carlos and Teresita Curbelo were clear about one thing: He must have a Cuban upbringing.

They raised the younger Carlos in the city of Hialeah, the most highly concentrated Cuban community in the United States. He enrolled at Belen Jesuit Preparatory School, an all-boys academy that was founded in Havana in 1854 and attended by Fidel Castro before it moved into exile. After school, young Carlos spent considerable time with his grandmother and her sister, absorbing their stories and attitudes. His family members were less assimilated than those of his friends, he said.

“I grew up with that Cuban culture but then with this reverence, and I would say adoration, for the United States,” Curbelo said in a recent interview. “The culture was Cuban, but the patriotism was decidedly American.”

The environment came with unique pressures. “Maybe it’s true of all immigrant families, but there is this paranoia that you have to succeed. It’s fear of loss, right?” he said.

Curbelo’s father was part of the anti-Castro resistance, motivated in part by the imprisonment of young Carlos’s grandfather.

The family was haunted by stories of the grandfather’s experience in prison, where the guards would simulate executions and watch the frightened captives soil themselves.

“‘The greatest thing in the world,’ ‘a gift from God’ — those are the kinds of descriptions I became accustomed to hearing about the United States,” Curbelo said.

Keep reading reading here. 

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