As everyone knows, following the Cuban Revolution in 1959, many people fled to the United States. After that first big wave of departures, there’s been a steady drip of Cuban emigrés and defectors thanks to the special immigration status afforded to Cubans. In addition, there was a second big wave associated with the Mariel Boatlift. But there was immigration from Cuba to the United States even before the Revolution. Indeed, immigration to the United States from Latin America was largely unrestricted at the time. My paternal grandfather’s family immigrated to the United States before Castro, and there was a vibrant Cuban-American community in Florida before the revolution. You can read all about it in my grandfather’s book, A Wake in Ybor City.
By much the same token, Marco Rubio’s parents came to the United States in 1956 for reasons that can’t have had anything to do with Fidel Castro since he was living in Mexico at the time. Somewhat unaccountably, his official biography misstates this:
When I initially read the story about this, I didn’t think it was that big a deal. Family lore sometimes gets mixed up, and I don’t think I’ve personally always had a perfectly accurate sense of when my relatives moved to the United States. What’s odd and damning, however, is that when the error was pointed out, Rubio didn’t apologize and correct it. Instead “Senator Rubio issued a statement on Thursday saying that the ‘essential facts of my family’s story are completely accurate.’ And he said it was ‘outrageous’ to suggest that he had exaggerated his family history for ‘political gain.’”
But, look, the facts aren’t accurate. The official bio said his parents came to America following Fidel Castro’s takeover. In fact, they came before Castro’s takeover. It’s not the biggest deal in the world, but the right response is to apologize for the error and correct it. Instead, he’s outraged that reporters have pointed the error up and the inaccurate bio was still up on his site as of about 10 minutes ago. Now the page is broken and maybe they’re fixing it.