Honoring Hispanic Heritage: West Virginia woman recalls escape from Cuba

Hispanic Heritage Month

CHARLES TOWN, WV (WOWK) – It has been six decades since the failed U.S. invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs. Now 60 years later, Charles Town resident, Lala Suarez-Mooney, is remembering her harrowing escape from Cuba in her book, “Leaving Cuba: One Family’s Journey to Find Freedom.”

Lala Suarez-Mooney is a native of Cuba who fled Castro in the early 1960s and came to the United States. Suarez-Mooney says she, her sisters, her father, and other family members were all arrested.

“Fidel Castro picked up 100,000 prisoners, said everybody goes to prison. And once in prison, they abuse us,” explained Suarez-Mooney. “For example, one day, they wanted to move some prisoners, they brought fire trucks, and firemen aimed the water hose at everybody, including one woman who was pregnant, and they aimed it at her stomach. They are cruel, and they don’t hesitate to use any means to keep people scared and bound.”

Suarez-Mooney and her sisters and their father were eventually able to get out, but other family members were not as lucky. She says one of her uncles fulfilled a seven-year sentence and another died in prison. She willingly shares the story of her escape to anyone who wants to hear it, hoping to share her history while saving it for future generations.

When asked about the latest unrest and protests happening in Cuba over the last few months, describing it as “desperate.”

“Well, I really wish there was some way we could help them. It’s a desperate situation,” said Suarez-Mooney. “Some of the comments say to the government you’re killing us with hunger, people are just desperate, the economic situation is desperate. Socialism and communism doesn’t work.”

Lala-Suarez Mooney has been back to Cuba seven times to complete mission work for her church. She believes that’s her way of showing gratitude for the life she now lives, while not forgetting those who weren’t as fortunate.

“You know, every morning I look out the window and I thank God for this country,” explained Suarez-Mooney. “This country is a dream. It is everybody’s dream and I am so grateful.”

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