Here in Miami, there’s a Wall of Martyrs in our son’s Jesuit high school, lined with pictures of handsome young men who died in a failed but heroic attempt to save democracy in their little country. It was a flawed democracy, it’s true, but certain freedoms we take for granted here were taken for granted there: religion, association, press — even the ability to travel freely or start a business.

Those young Cubans weren’t successful, of course, and some of them died on the beach or in the jungle. Some of those who survived the battle died in heinous prisons. Fidel Castro, who had attended the same Havana Jesuit school as the martyrs, proceeded to turn the country into a prison, an island of despair and dejection. My father visited last summer for the first time since his forced exile 50 years earlier. When he came home he got in bed and stayed there for two weeks, grief-stricken by the devastation, both spiritual and material, that had overtaken the beautiful island that he had visited nightly in his dreams for so many years.

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