The “Turn the Beat Around” singer was born in 1957, just a few years before Fidel Castro’s historic assumption of power in the island nation.
“I left Cuba when I was literally two and a half years old,” she recalled, per Entertainment Tonight. “In May of 1960, I was brought to the U.S. because my father was a police officer for the Cuban government. “
Estefan said that the night that Castro, who died in 2016, took power in 1959, her father came home with troubling news.
Gloria Estefan shared that her Cuban family fled when Gloria was just two years old.
(Photo by Karwai Tang/WireImage)
“We’re in trouble, the president just left the country,” he told his wife and Estefan’s mother. The songstress claimed that her mother had urged her to not return to work as he would be detained. However, he said it was his duty to “protect the Cuban people.” “
Like Estefan’s mother predicted, the singer’s father was jailed, as was his own father.
“His father, who was a commander in the army, and him were jailed,” the “Vivo” actress said. He was released three to four months later, and told his mother that he wanted to help him get out of Cuba. ‘”
She added: “They knew who Fidel Castro was, what was coming, because Castro attached himself to communism. He left Cuba with my father. I was born in Cuba. The round-trip ticket is still mine. Emilio Estefan’s husband shared his story.
Gloria Estefan, Emilio Estefan and Emilio fled Cuba when Fidel Castro took power.
(Photo by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images)
“I was 11 years old when they came to my house looking for dollars because Castro decided to change the money,” remembered the producer, 68. They looked all around, and then they went into the safe. My father got anxious and couldn’t open his safe. The whole wall was blown out and they found nothing. “
A few years later the family was planning to leave Cuba, an emotionally charged time for the musician.
” I cried when I left Cuba. But my mother said that she would not cry. My grandfather and uncles took a photo of me and told me that they would never again see me. This was one of my most difficult experiences. They never came back to see me again. “
Several years later, the Estefans had found a way to get Emilio’s niece, Lili and her brother out of Cuba.
According to Gloria, Emilio set out on a “20-foot boat” called Popea. The crew, she said, didn’t know “what they were doing” and ran out of gas, spending 10 days lost at sea.
Despite going days without food and water and having a pregnant wife back home, Emilio said the mission was worth it.
Gloria Estefan and Emilio Estefan helped to save several family members.
(Photo by Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images for LARAS)
“You’ll know when you have kids in the future what you’d do for your family. He insisted that the only thing we did was to try and save his family’s life in a country free from terrorism. He was informed that his family wouldn’t be permitted to come back with him once he had arrived. Six months later, Gloria & Emilio got visas that permitted them to assume responsibility for the care of their families.
“Thank you both, for you [Gloria] letting him go and you [Emilio] risking your life to save mine, my father’s and my brother’s,” Lili said. I have done so much for your guys. It was worth it. “
Gloria said that their efforts were “of course” not in vain. Emilio said, “It was one of the most important things in my life.”