My escape from Cuba to capitalism—and freedom

The United States offered Freedom Flights to Cuban refugees in the early 1960s. On the 3rd of September 1962, my family and I arrived in this great nation. We were free.

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My life could have easily taken another turn if not for the bravery of my parents and the kindness and openness of the United States which allowed me to immigrate here and become an American. When Fidel Castro’s communist/socialist tyranny took hold of Cuba, where he erased freedom, my parents rebelled and sought to change that form of government. When there was no hope of change occurring, we sought refuge and freedom in the United States.

Castro’s socialist regime made the government the dominant force in society from cradle to grave. Those socialist changes, which included nationalizing private property, caused widespread misery.

My life under capitalism has been one of growth, opportunity, challenge, reward, failure, success, triumph—and I would not change a thing. This system we call free enterprise, also referred to as capitalism, is the best one ever invented.

The land of opportunity

My life in America has given me the opportunity to travel and experience other nations; first while serving in the United States Air Force and then afterwards as a private citizen. I have seen first-hand how America truly is the land of opportunity to those who prepare, work hard, sacrifice and never give up.

In America you have the chance to succeed or fail but, more importantly, the opportunity to succeed after failure. Above all, we have the right to the pursuit of happiness that allows us to reach our maximum level as a person to benefit society, our nation and our family.

After arriving from Cuba, I grew up poor in the Bronx. My parents worked hard in blue-collar jobs that opened the doors for my success later in life. I saw first-hand the sacrifice my hard-working parents made for our family. While our country has citizens in various income levels, we all have the chance to succeed if we choose to do so.

It is disheartening for me to see many politicians today use class warfare to make their political points. Today our country has a very strong economy and the lowest unemployment rate in over 50 years. With a job, a family has dignity, the chance for home ownership, and the opportunity to achieve the most sought-after dream, known all around the world as: the American Dream.

No opportunity

In Cuba, other than the ruling class, everyone is poor and there is no opportunity to succeed. Socialism there, as in North Korea, Venezuela, the former Soviet Union, and in many other socialist countries, has been a failure.

As Winston Churchill once said: “The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.”

To today’s American Democratic socialists, the verdict is in—socialism is a complete and utter failure. There is a reason that people in those countries want to immigrate to the United States and that reason is the opportunity for a better life here.

Many of our politicians have forgotten that our country is the beacon of hope because of our capitalist system. Some of these socialist politicians who themselves are millionaires, seem to enjoy the good life yet want to impose and create a high tax system that limits and restricts economic growth for all.

Elected officials in the far-left wing of the Democratic party should examine the decline of Venezuela. Just a few decades ago, it was one of our hemisphere’s richest counties. Today, after a socialism reign, it is one of our poorest.

Socialism does not work. It has never worked. It sounds good, and makes for a good academic discussion in a classroom. But the reality is it undermines the hard work and sacrifice of people like my father and mother.

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The capitalism versus socialism debate ended years ago and capitalism won. Let the American Dream live on because it truly is the best system ever created.

Alex Sanchez is president and CEO of the Florida Bankers Association which has membership of small, regional and large financial institutions that together employ tens of thousands of Floridians, safeguard more than $500 billion in deposits and extend more than $135 billion in loans.