August 18, 2008

IN KNOXVILLE, SOME NEW U.S. CITIZENS who know things others don’t:

One couple came here after escaping from a country thatՉ۪s about a hundred miles away on the map, but light years away politically.

Friday was the day Olga Alveres has been waiting on for decades.

“So happy. So happy.”

The native Cuban is now a naturalized U.S. Citizen. Her husband, Roberto, took the same oath last year. A huge moment for anyone, but for a man who escaped from Cuba after spending six years as a political prisoner, being an American family means everything.

Roberto Alveres says, “In this country if you work, nothing’s impossible.”

Celia Bright with University of Tennessee says, “In the 50’s we were full of optimism in Cuba. We thought that Fidel Castro would bring about democracy for our country.”

The speaker addressing the new citizens has literally been where Roberto and Olga have been. University of Tennessee lecturer Celia Bright left Cuba with her mother when she was eight years old. Her writings as a young child led to government accusations that her family was counter-revolutionary.

Bright says, “It was soon evident, after the revolution of 1959, that the political situation had deteriorated and personal freedoms were curtailed to the point that people feared for their lives and for the futures of their children.”

It has been evident for nearly 50 years, and yet it’s not clear in the media coverage.

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