It was in the early 1960s that my father, the late Phillip W. Ebanks, and tens of thousands of persons living in Cuba realised that the country was headed for disaster under the Castro regime.
As a result, scores of families started making preparations to abandon their homeland in search of democratic freedom and evade what was very clears to be the future of a beautiful country that had so many natural resources. Cuba, once seen as the pearl of the West Indies was headed to be more the opposite.
My father began making our own preparations to leave the country in flee of communism and take the family to the US.
However, by late 1965, after all preparations were in order to exit the country, the volume of persons applying to leave had grown to such proportions that an exit visa number was assigned by the government to each family and by this number only were you allowed to leave the country legally.
This, unfortunately, created a great danger for our family as the cut off age for boys leaving the country was age 15 and the oldest son would reach such age before too long.
After waiting for more than two years with little hope in sight that the visa number assigned would be called before the oldest son reached the cut off age, the British consulate on duty in Havana was relieved for a much-needed vacation and God sent a young, efficient and determined new consulate to fill his post by the name of Mary Louise Crowl and she was determined to make good use of her tenure.
My father, and many others of Cayman descent, was made aware of the new consulate and the race against time began. It was early in 1968 and within 11 months the age of the oldest son would hinder him from travelling, thereby creating a hurdle for the whole family, as the motto was, ‘we all go, or we all stay.’
Many a night my father would go into the woods and pray for our last chance to freedom, and the trails and obstacles are very vivid to this day, but on 22 October, 1968, our family, along with many other families of Cayman descent, arrives at Owen Roberts Airport safe and sound.
The Ebanks family once again, on behalf of all those who arrived on that blessed day 40 years ago, would like to thank all those that helped in any way to make our integration into a new society much more comfortable and at home. May God Bless these islands and its people.
John W. Ebanks