This article published in the Miami Herald is a heartbreaking story of an 80 years old Cuban lady worthy of reading to the end.
When Ed Goldfarb pulled up at the modest three-bedroom house a few blocks off Southwest Eighth Street, he knew there would probably be a sad story lurking inside. Homes headed to foreclosure almost always have one, and as a real-estate agent specializing in so-called short sales — where a bank is trying to quickly sell a foreclosed house to get it off the books — Goldfarb had heard them all: Lost job. Death in the family. Divorce. Drugs and booze. Just plain old bad luck.
Goldfarb usually sympathized with the occupants of the homes he sold, but there wasn’t anything he could do for them. He was not a financial adviser (and the people in the houses were always hopelessly past that point anyway) or a grief counselor, just a guy there to get some pictures to show prospective buyers. He never stuck around longer than it took to snap the photos.
But this one was different. When an elderly woman opened the door, Goldfarb’s gaze was immediately riveted by a framed book jacket hanging on the wall: “Diary of a Survivor: Nineteen Years in a Cuban Women’s Prison.” A solemn but graceful young female face peered out from a corner of the cover.
“What’s that about?” asked Goldfarb, unable to contain his curiosity. “About me,” replied the woman, 80-year-old Ana Rodríguez, now six decades or so past the age of her photo on the cover. “About my time in Fidel Castro’s prisons.”
And for the next 45 minutes, it all poured out — everything Ana Rodríguez, Cuba’s longest-held female political prisoner, endured during her nearly two decades of incarceration:
The beatings. The hunger strikes. The brutal days of forced labor under the broiling Cuban sun; the endless months in the suffocating dark of sealed cells. The ferocious guards, the wily rats, the eternal cockroaches.
After he’d heard her story, Goldfarb went home with a copy of the book and a steely conviction that he could not help a bank take this woman’s home.
“Oh my God, she’s paid her dues in life, so many times over,” Goldfarb told a reporter last week. “I think she’s way beyond a hero. This can’t be the way her life ends, living in a car. …
“I’ve spent a day in jail, twice, for mouthing off during divorce cases. And I can tell you that you don’t want to do one day in jail. Twenty years, nobody should ever have to endure that. We’ve got to help her.”
Goldfarb has been writing letters, calling bankers and churning out press releases trying to work out a deal to keep Rodríguez in her home, which is snarled in a thicket of bad loans and worse luck.
Earlier this month, in a last-ditch effort, he created a gofundme account for her. Goldfarb figures it would take $300,000 for Rodríguez to regain control of her home and avoid her Plan B, which is to live in her car.
“I know it’s a lot, “ he said. “But I’m hopeful some well-to-do individuals in the Cuban community can step up and help.”
If not, she’s due to be evicted from her home by the end of the month.
Rodríguez appreciates Goldfarb’s help, but seems resigned that she’ll soon be homeless.
Prison taught me that there’s always hope,” she said. “But this will require something much bigger than hope.”