Profiling Abilio Hernandez
By Emilie Bosak
ebosak@hunter.cuny.edu

Abilio Hernandez, who fled Cuba in May 1961 with his wife, son and nephew, said that he was 37-years-old when he decided to abandon all his belonging so that he could save his family from communist oppression.

Hernandez said that "right after Batista was overthrown in 1959, Fidel promised elections and up to now there are no elections." He said he left Cuba because, although he believed in Fidel's ideologies at first he came to realize that there was no more democracy in his country. He said that Castro's slogan was "you are with the revolution or against it" and he said that he "did not want to be for the revolution."

He said that in Cuba "if you spoke against the government you could go to jail" and that "they were executing people for no reasons, just because they were enemies of the revolution." He said that "the last push that made me want to leave happened when they took all the schools, private and public, to teach communism to children and I did not want my boy to be a communist."

Hernandez's son, Abilio E. Hernandez, who is a 51-year-old market development manager and lives in Lakeland, Florida, said that he remembered what happened in his school when he was 6 years old. "One day at school guys in uniforms came and called all the kids in the middle of the courtyard and told them it was their duty to report anything suspicious about their parents." He said that for a youngster it was impressive to see those men in uniform telling him to report on his parents but that he did not really understand why.

Hernandez said that he was supposed to leave before the invasion of the Bay of Pigs but that the cargo ship he would have embarked was already full. He said that they left a month later, from the port of Havana, on a Spaniard cargo ship. During the interview, Hernandez wore a pair of beige pants, a blue short sleeve shirt and black shoes. He looked at his wife, who was seated nearby, with his big blue eyes, and asked her the name of the ship they had left Cuba with. After she failed to hear his question, he remembered the name "the ship's name was Satrustegui," he said.

Hernandez and his family had a tourist visa for Barcelona, Spain. He said that before they got on the ship the Cuban customs were checking everything "they undress me to see what I was carrying" and since he was supposedly going on vacation he had to leave most of his personal belonging.

Hernandez said that two other couples, Luis and Marta Vildostegui and Arnaldo and Milagro Lopez left Cuba on the Satrustegui with him and his family. He also said that instead of going to Barcelona, he and his family got of at La Guaira, Venezuela because he had Cuban friends waiting for him at the port of La Guaira [Caracas]. The Vildostegui also stayed in Venezuela but the Lopez went on to Barcelona.

He said he was happy to stay in Venezuela because he had friends there and that he did not have to cross the Atlantic with his sea-sick wife and because he was closer to the U.S. where the rest of his family was.

Hernandez said that he stayed at his friends for about a month and they helped him economically because he "arrived to Venezuela with no valid money at all." He also said that he started looking for a job right away because he did not know how long he was going to be there for.

Hernandez who was born in January, 1924, received his CPA degree from the University of Havana in 1951. He worked for the National Bank of Cuba as an auditor before he left and eventually got a job in a bank in Venezuela as an auditor.

Hernandez said that Caridad and Manuel Asensio, his sister and law and her husband, who were in Brooklyn, New York, send him money while he was in Caracas. He said that Caridad and Manuel Asensio eventually got a tourist visa for their son, Manuel P Asensio, so that he could join them in Brooklyn.

Hernandez, his wife Alicia Hernandez and their son Abilio Hernandez stayed in Caracas, Venezuela, until December, 1961. He said that his sister in law sent them money to buy airline tickets so that they could fly to New York. He also said that they moved in with Josefina Cavagnas, another sister in law.

He said he arrived to New York in December and that it was the first time he saw snow. "I had doubts I could stand the weather, I was used of tropical weather," he said. He also said that he loved the first winter but not the second one.

He said that it took him 40 days to find a job at Merryl Lynch Pierce and Smith where he worked in the auditing department as a supervisor. He then moved to his own apartment in the same building where Cavagnas and Asensio lived.

In 1969 Hernandez put all his belonging in a Ryder truck and drove it to Miami, Florida. His wife and son followed him in their car he said. "I already had a position in Miami I was replacing Arnaldo because he was promoted," he said.

He said that the night he arrived in Miami, Florida, he rented a one bedroom apartment on Miami Beach where he stayed about a year before buying a house. He said he got a loan from a bank and put a $6000 down payment on a three bedroom house. He said he lived in that house for 30 years before moving back to an apartment on Miami Beach in 1999.

He has four grandchildren, three girls in Lakeland and one in New York, Owen Hernandez, a 29-year-old research analyst who said his grandfather is a generous and responsible person and is "the type of guy who has never lost his wallet."

Hernandez said that he is member of the Miami harbor boat club and but has not been using his boat. He is retired now and "enjoying all my years of work," he said.

above article is from: http://theword.hunter.cuny.edu/culture/cljune4.html

 

In his book, Sold Short, Asensio tells a largely identical story of fleeing Cuba as a six-year old.  In his words:

On May 15, 1961, my mother packed my clothes in a suitcase and took me to the docks, where I was to board a large ship with my aunt and uncle . . .

Although my aunt and uncle and I were on a ship bound for Spain that was not in fact our intended destination.  On May 21 we disembarked at a port of call in Caracas, Venezuela.  This was our true destination . . .

On August 15, 1961, I was put on a plane, all alone, to New York . . .

Within a few years my family reconstituted, one by one, in Brooklyn's Borough Park.

It is clear that Abilio A. Hernandez is Asensio's uncle.  Owen Hernandez, the individual to whom NASD transferred his questionably obtained broker-dealer license,  is his second cousin.