‘What happiness’ in New Jersey after Fidel Castro dies at 90
TRENTON — The death of Fidel Castro brought back emotion and memories for many in New Jersey.
Martha Liebenthal, a Jackson resident who came to the United States from Cuba with her brother, mother and late father in 1969 told New Jersey 101.5 "it took us 9 years to get out of that hell hole."
She said Cuba only got worse after they left.
"The emotion my family and I are feeling is absolutely indescribable," she said. "We have relatives who have to sleep in various part of the world to escape that tyranny. The way we feel, Hell couldn't begin to punish him for the murders of so many innocent people and for the breaking up of so many families.
"The destruction of a once beautiful country ... I am crying. Its' happy crying. How I wish I could be with some of my relatives in Florida right now."
She has been texting with her family and sharing their joy.
"This bastard died on my brother Ernest's birthday. No present that he received could possibly be as good as this one," Liebenthal said.
Liebenthal, spending the Thanksgiving holiday in Queens with her mother, said she awoke her with the news early Saturday morning.
"I have never seen an almost-92-year-old jump out of her bed so fast and with such happiness on her face. She said 'What happiness. It was about time.' She almost ran to the kitchen and said, 'Come let's celebrate. Take out the Cuban flag, a pot and spoon and let's make some noise,'" which is a traditional Cuban expression of joy.
Liebenthal said she didn't have a flag at home, because she has it displayed in her classroom at Jackson Memorial High School, where she is a Spanish teacher.
"I know that it's not really my place to discuss politics. But certainly as a Cuban native my students know where I was born and lived for many years. They know the events of the past six months to a year have deeply affected me because I have much family still in Cuba. I definitely will be a very happy camper and will share with them," Liebenthal said.
Within half an hour of the Cuban government's announcement Saturday of the death of the 90-year-old revolutionary leader, cheers were heard in Miami's Little Havana. Thousands of people banged pots, waved Cuban flags and whooped in jubilation. "Cuba si! Castro no!" they chanted, while others screamed "Cuba libre!"
Cuba’s government announced that Castro’s ashes would be interred on Dec. 4 in the eastern city of Santiago that was a birthplace of his revolution. That will follow more than a week of honors, including a nearly nationwide caravan retracing, in reverse, his tour from Santiago to Havana with the triumph of the revolution in 1959.
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