Jul 18, 2023

Cubans Look to Genealogy as a Way Off the Island

There’s high demand by Cubans to research their ancestry with help from U.S.-based genealogy buffs. If they can tie it to Spain, it means a way off the island.

The following is extracted from an interview of Lourdes Del Pino, a Cuban American engineer, AND Brian Tosko Bello as conducted by Tim Padgett and Adrian Florido, a host at radio station WLRN in Miami:

INTRO: for Cuban Americans, it’s about finding roots on the island, but for Cubans who live there, it’s about finding their ticket off.

Lourdes Del Pino: People want us to help them find sacramental records or civil records in Cuba.

Tim Padgett: She’s vice president of the Cuban Genealogy Club of Miami. In recent years, it’s grown to more than 9,000 members.

Lourdes Del Pino: It has exploded. We have members in Australia. We have members all over the world.

Brian Tosko Bello: Del Pino spends a lot of time at Florida International University poring over Cuban archives, helping people like Bryan Tosko Bello find their families’ stories. Tosko Bello is a marketing professional in Washington, D.C. He caught the genealogy bug after a beloved Cuban-born grandmother passed away a few years ago in the U.S.

Brian Tosko Bello: In 2019, Tosko Bello did go to Cuba, and as he hunted down his family’s past, he discovered treasure troves of data like records from church parishes and cemeteries. Back in the U.S., he partnered with another Cuban American genealogy enthusiast in Miami, historian Richard Denis. They created the website Digital Cuba and digitized all that Cuban cemetery and parish information. They also made a podcast.

Brian Tosko Bello: We are doing our first famous Cuban family tree episode, starting with Mr. Desi Arnaz.

There is a lot more to the interview which you can read on the NPR web site at: