Doctor recalls fleeing Cuba to the U.S.
By Natassia Bonyanpour
Sept. 28, 2014 at 9:24 p.m.
Updated Sept. 29, 2014 at 7:10 a.m.
Six weeks before his 15th birthday, Felix Regueira made a decision that
would change his life.
He left everything he had ever known - his home, country and parents.
Regueira fled Cuba in 1966, seven years after Fidel Castro overthrew the
Fulgencio Batista dictatorship and created a communist country.
Regueira, now 62, practices pediatrics in Victoria and has done so for
more than 30 years. He came to the Crossroads in 1979 because of the
need he saw for pediatricians at a time when only three served the
Regueira said he never become what he wanted to be without making the
bold move to leave.
He did it all so he could achieve his dreams.
"I am very lucky," Regueira said. "Fidel Castro made it so that males
that were 15- to 40-years-old could not leave the country for military
Regueira said he had beautiful memories of his country before Castro
took power. He said Cuba had a flourishing economy and radiated in culture.
Although he was young, he said, he felt the harsh turn of government. He
turned to his grandfather to explain the meaning of communism.
"He said (communism) is what they have in Russia," Regueira said. "That
means we're going to lose everything we have ever owned. Everything is
going to be state-owned."
As years passed, Regueira said, Castro sequestered all of what Cuba's
economy thrived on. He said the government took over international
companies, then Cuban industries and finally prevailed over community
businesses - like his father's grocery store.
"My father, who worked so hard at his store, became an employee of his
own business." he said. "I told my parents, there is no future here. I
had to leave."
Regueira said saying goodbye to his parents and brother without knowing
if he would ever see them again was incredibly difficult.
Nevertheless, he said, he remained strong and boarded a plane to Spain,
eventually landing in Miami.
"I knew with a system like that there is no freedom of choice," Regueria
said. "The government dictates everything you will be. I was able to
become what I wanted, and I gave my kids a chance at a future."
Regueria's parents and brother made it to the United States a few years
later. Regueria said his mother worked as a seamstress and father as a
butcher to put him and his brother through medical school.
Regueria's wife, Norma, also fled Cuba during the beginning of Fidel
Castro's reign. Leaving was not easy - her father was imprisoned for two
years under false accusation, slowing down the process.
The couple, who have been married for 42 years, both said they are
living examples of immigrants working hard and prospering in America.
"We have to realize that there is poverty on the other side," Norma
Regueira said. "I fully understand that there needs to be a land of law
and order. We have to see that people from other countries have a lot to
offer. We have to make the process of applying for citizenship more
friendly so we don't continue to have desperation leading to breaking laws."
She said her husband encompasses great love for the work he does helping
"My husband is just a passionate man about what he does," she said.
"Medicine is what drives him; it's his passion. I would not have it any
The doctor, who built his own practice, said he could never see himself
doing anything else.
"One thing I like about pediatrics is how children get better." he said.
"They come in sick one day and the next day they are better. That
stimulates my mind and body-that I'm doing something so fast and so good."
With all his success, Regueira always sticks close to his roots, and
often reflects at the sacrifice his parents made for him and his brother.
"My parents are a great example of how to lose everything and start all
over again," Regueira said. "They have never gone out of Miami, never
went to a movie, never traveled. All they did was work all the time to
help my brother and I. They made the ultimate sacrifice for us."
Source: Doctor recalls fleeing Cuba to the U.S.Victoria Advocate -