It’s not something I talk about often, but when I do tell people I was born in Havana, Cuba; the first thing they ask is, “Was your dad in the military?” When I tell them that he wasn’t, their next comment almost always is, “Why were you born there? You don’t look Cuban!” With that in mind, I suppose my cousins “look even less Cuban” than I do. As babies, each of my cousins qualified for any Gerber Baby look-alike contest, with their blond curls and big blue eyes.
My paternal grandparents were directly from Spain. My maternal ancestry is also from Spain with a few drops of French in there somewhere. What most people don’t know is that in 1492, Columbus claimed the island for the Kingdom of Spain. Cuba remained under Spain’s ruling until 1898. Most of the original Native Americans living in Cuba died because they were subjected to harsh slavery, or died from Eurasian diseases. A thousand or so survived, many escaped into the mountains. Thousands were then cruelly ripped from their homes and families in Africa to replace the lost native slaves. Cuba’s ethnicity is somewhat different from the typical Latin America people imagine. Continue reading