HAVANA TIMES – Sixteen-year-old Miguel “Mike” Bezos left Cuba in 1962. Unbeknownst to him, he was on a path that would lead to fame and fortune. He came to America from Cuba wearing a jacket that his mother had hand sewn from a cleaned rag. He was a teenager traveling alone who spoke little English.
The special program that Mike participated in later became known as Operation Peter Pan, in which about 14,000 Cuban children were sent alone under the auspices of the Catholic Church. Their parents were not allowed to join them at the airport for fear that their children would become victims of indoctrination, and as a result they were dropped off without an escort.
After a 45-minute flight, the story of how this young man’s bravery changed the world of business began. The turmoil in Cuba indirectly leads to an attempt at capitalism that ranks as one of the most important global business achievements.
After spending time in a refugee camp in Florida, Mike was sent to Wilmington, Delaware to attend high school. He later received a scholarship to complete his degree at the University of Albuquerque. After that, he worked for Exxon Mobile, where he worked for 32 years.
A 16-year-old boy becomes stepfather to Jeff Bezos, one of the richest men in the world. The Bezos family then convinced him that in 1995 he became an early investor in Amazon and that Jeff could pull off his business startup. Jeff quit his great job on Wall Street to follow his dreams. Just like when Mike worked up the courage to leave Cuba.
In short, Amazon might not exist if it weren’t for Fidel Castro and the changes that the Cuban Revolution took in the first few years. After college, Mike met Jacqueline Guise (Jeff’s mother) and later embarked on a career path to get the funding that would later be offered to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.
“When he came here from Cuba at 16, not only was he alone, he only spoke Spanish. His guts, determination and optimism are inspiring,” said Jeff Bezos. I’m talking about the mic.
The irony of this story is that many travelers these days, traveling from the United States to Cuba (a general license exemption from the US embargo on the island) to help the Cuban people, are based on multiple sources. It means that you are guessing where you purchased the item that is available from … Amazon.
*Guest Writer for Havana Times
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