Recent Détente Cheers Tri-State Area Cubans
MILFORD — Cubans in the Tri-State area are cautiously optimistic about the new détente engineered by the Obama administration and Cuba.
Cuba and U.S. agreed to relax their strained relations. The U.S. had sought to isolate Cuba after Fidel Castro took over power in the 1950s and replaced the military dictatorship with a Communist regime.
Many Cubans fled during the Castro period and most of those who stayed suffered economic privation.
Lehman Township resident Elizabeth Diaz Oistacher was a child when she left Cuba in 1961. She and some family members fled with only the clothes they could carry. Her dad, Celestino Diaz, tried to flee by boat, but was caught. He became a political prisoner and lost his photography and boxing promoter business.
Oistacher went to Florida, but later went to live with her aunt in Queens, New York, and later, after marriage, bought a house in Lehman. She said last week that she still has cousins and other relatives living in Cuba.
Oistacher did not see her Dad until she was 18 years old. After serving time, he managed to find a way out.
Oistacher said that since she left Cuba, she had continued to correspond with family members and that she was aware that the economic conditions in Cuba were bad.
Oistacher said, “I think it is a good idea to open relations between Cuba and the United States. I think it will help the people economically. I am looking forward to visiting Cuba again later this year to attend a wedding. We are hoping for more visits to bring the family back together.”
Ed Diaz, a Sussex County resident, unrelated to Elizabeth, left Cuba in 1980 when he was 14. His dad could not emigrate after the Bay of Pigs because he was an engineer. Cubans needed professionals such as engineers and doctors, so Castro prevented their exit. But, when his dad signed on to take continuing education courses outside Cuba, he was able to take his family, including Ed, to Mexico. From there, his dad sought and got political asylum for himself and family members in the U.S.
When Castro started conducting an aggressive agrarian reform movement, it displaced large landholders in the country.
Diaz’ family members had 1,000 acres of land given to them in the early 1800s as a pension for service to the Spanish royalty and the military. The pension recognized the family for their service to Spain as horse trainers.
The Diaz family continued to train horses and give riding lessons for two centuries, but Castro started breaking up the Diaz property by 1980. This left the family with only a few acres, not enough land to graze horses. So, some of Diaz’ close relatives emigrated.
Diaz said, “I am hopeful that the Cuban government would allow more businesses to open again. They have already started to allow small businesses, such as sandwich shops, to operate. Right now, some of my family still trains horses there, but they are working for the government... for complete story get this week' s issue.
Ice Festival Dedicated To Late Dick Snyder
MILFORD — Michael Carson Productions and their Frozen Feet Theatre Ice-skating Production Company, in cooperation with Milford Recreation Committee, presented the 7th Annual Winter Lights Festival in Milford Borough last weekend.
At the kick-off ceremony held on Saturday at Ann Street Memorial Park Ice Rink, Carson said the festival this year was dedicated to the late Dick Snyder, with this year’s musical theme inspired by the Roaring ‘20s.
Snyder was one of the guiding forces behind the streetscape upgrade and restoration of historic buildings, such as the Hotel Fauchere on Broad Street and the old Milford School building on West Harford Street.
The festival began on Friday at the Columns Museum with a fund-raising dinner, aided by local restaurants.
On Saturday, the public got to taste entries at the festival’s popular Mac n’ Cheese and Chili cook-offs. After the cook-offs, the skaters entertained with the company’s original skating interpretations of classic 20’s music, ragtime, George Gershwin compositions, and other popular classics outside the 1920s, such as Nina Simone’s “Run to the Rock.”
Frozen Feet Theatre Choreographer Beth Woronoff styled some of the skating numbers as a life-sized dramatic puppet show, with costumes designed by Sara Peatie. Whereas in past years the productions featured costumed skaters performing ancient myths, this year, they skated to “Run to the Rock,” as a Biblical theme of a sinner whose soul is being contested by Lucifer, the Devil, and the Archangel Michael, representing God.
Skaters who performed in the Grand Opening performances included DV graduate and collegiate champion Jordan Hartey... for complete story get this week' s issue.