We all listened closely as Carlos Fonts, who served for several years in the U.S. Navy and CIA, told his amazing story of being a part of the Bay of Pigs invasion.
The native Cuban had been a frogman in Brigade 2506, a CIA-sponsored group of Cuban exiles formed to attempt to overthrow the Cuban government ran by Fidel Castro.
His story and others from expert panelists such as John Hernandez, President and CEO of the Fort Worth Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (FWHCC), inspired a rich conversation during the Cuba and Immigration panel last Thursday in Fort Worth. Fort Worth Opera and the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza partnered up for the event, which was part of FWOpera’s JFK: Five Decades of Progress education series.
A History of the America-Cuba Confrontation
The Fort Worth Opera event, moderated by Dr. Jim Riddlesperger, Professor of Political Science at Texas Christian University, included many personal stories about the Bay of Pigs Invasion, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the impact that the five-decade embargo has on Cuba’s economy.
Panelist Dr. David LaFevor, Assistant Professor of Latin American History and Digital Humanities at the University of Texas at Arlington, said it best with his frank statement:
“Castro was willing to put the entire island [of Cuba] on the line to win the America-Cuba confrontation.”
The conversation touched on President Kennedy’s assassination and its affect the whole world, even Mexicans living in Mexico during that time. Dr. Juan Hernández, Founder of the Center for U.S.-Mexico Studies at the University of Texas at Dallas, told a story of how the children selling newspapers that day yelled out the headline: “mataron a Kennedy [they killed Kennedy]” all across his small town.
Experts also discussed how the Kennedy administration affected society during the 1960s, and why both President Bush and President Obama have made efforts to improve relationships between Cuba and the United States.
The Future of Cuba and Immigration
Panelists also took the opportunity to discuss JFK’s position on immigration and how it continues to affect the Dallas-Fort Worth community.
This led to a discussion on immigration and the unique immigration policy that Cubans share with America that is not available to other Latin American countries. My mother, a Cuban native and Spanish professor, even shared her thoughts on the issue.
“The U.S. government should really remove the special immigration privilege that Cubans currently have,” Rodriguez said. “Cubans these days are immigrating to the U.S. not for political or humanitarian reasons, but for economic reasons – the same as any immigrant from any other Latin American country.” – Janet Rodriguez
Broadly speaking, any Cuban that makes it to American soil is given permanent resident status, and is allowed to become a U.S. citizen.
FWHCC President Hernandez and Dr. Juan Hernandez brought in their expertise and weighed in on current immigration issues between the U.S. and Mexico. Dr. Hernández spoke about the five-point citizenship test, which involved testing potential citizens that are undocumented on five different bases for entry into citizenship in the U.S.
The group touched briefly on the topic of current relations between America and Cuba and also discussed the different perspectives among Cubans and Americans – both in the past and today.
Up Next for FWOpera..How JFK Era Changed Journalism Forever
Fort Worth Opera continues its JFK education series with a talk on Journalism and how the industry has changed since JFK’s assassination.
The event is schedule for 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, February 18 at the Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza in Dallas. For more details, check out the FWO calendar on Allcal.
About Fort Worth Opera:
Founded in 1946, Fort Worth Opera is the oldest continually performing opera company in Texas, and one of the 14 oldest opera companies in the United States. Under the leadership of General Director Darren K. Woods since 2001, the organization has gained national attention from critics and audiences alike for its artistic quality and willingness to take risks. The company’s upcoming 2016 season includes the world premiere of David T. Little and Royce Vavrek’s commissioned opera JFK, Rossini’s hilarious comic romp The Barber of Seville, as well as the regional premiere of two one-act operas Buried Alive | Embedded, based on the short stories of Edgar Allan Poe.
For more great events and performances by Fort Worth Opera, go to their calendar of events.
Connect with Fort Worth Opera
About Sixth Floor Museum:
The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza chronicles the assassination and legacy of President John F. Kennedy, and interprets the Dealey Plaza National Historical Landmark District and the John F. Kennedy Memorial Plaza.
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