On the newest episode of their Facebook Watch series Red Table Talk, Gloria and Emilio Estefan shared their heartbreaking stories about fleeing Cuba as young children when Fidel Castro‘s coup threatened their lives.
“I left Cuba when I was literally two and a half years old. In May of 1960 I was brought to the U.S. because my father was a police officer for the Cuban government,” Gloria explained. “The night of the coup… My father came home and he told my mother, ‘We’re in trouble.'”
The singer said her father and grandfather, the latter an army commander, were arrested for their ties to the previous government. Both were jailed, but after they were released a few months after, they arranged to flee the country.
“They knew who Fidel Castro was, what was coming,” Estefan recalled.
Gloria said she still has the round-trip Pan American air ticket she was given to fly from Cuba to the U.S.
Emilio then opened up about his memories of leaving the only country he’s ever known, saying, “I was 11 years old when they came to my house looking for dollars because Castro decided to change the money.”
Emilio said he cried himself to sleep that night because of the terrifying search, even though Castro’s forces found nothing. His family was able to escape four years later, when he was “almost military age.”
“My mom’s family was from Spain,” he explained. “One of the hardest things for me is when my grandfather and uncles gave me a photograph and said, ‘You better remember me because you will never see me again.’… I never saw them again.”
The couple also shed light on Cuba’s humanitarian crisis, where they said protests over shortages of food and medicine are being met with military force.
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