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Miriam Isidro was born in 1953—the same year that a revolution erupted in Cuba.

Rebels wanted to overthrow then-president Fulgencio Batista, who left the island Jan. 1, 1959, marking the end of the life that Isidro and her family once knew.

Parades were held throughout Cuba, and many welcomed Fidel Castro as a bearded savior who would answer their prayers. Others, however, left as soon as they could.

It was not until 1961 that Isidro’s family plotted their escape, pretending to go on vacation when they had no intention of returning. At the time, it was not clear to Isidro what a huge risk her parents were taking in fleeing communist Cuba.