What Would Milo Think?

My best friend was a Cuban-American.

I first met Emilio Rodriguez in grad school at UNC-Chapel Hill in 1979. We were both students in the political science doctoral program. He in International Relations and me in Public Administration and Public Policy. He went on to get his PhD from Carolina while I got a wife and no degree. In fact, he was the one who introduced me to my late first wife Rosanne.

Milo went on to teach at the University of South Alabama, the American College of Switzerland, and finally at Mount Saint Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Maryland where he made an indelible mark on his students. He was leading a semester trip abroad in 2008 to Ireland  when he passed away from complications related to his kidney and pancreas transplant. Even now as I write this I am getting a lump in my throat and my eyes are moist.

Milo with his wife Amy, son John, and daughter in law Michelle.

While Milo was born in New Orleans to a Cuban dad and American mom, he spent much of his youth before the Cuban Revolution living in Havana. He had no love for Castro and the Communists.

Photo by Burt Glinn, Magnum Photos

I will always remember the stories Milo told about what it was like when the Communists came to power. The story that always resonated with me was about how they took his toy trains when he was an eight year old. They took them because Milo’s family wasn’t part of the proletariat.

What kind of people take a kid’s toy trains in the name of La RevoluciĆ³n.

Now that Barack Obama has unilaterally re-established diplomatic relations with Cuba, I wonder what Milo would think. Milo was a pro-military, pro-gun kinda-liberal college professor who grew up in Miami and Madrid. He enjoyed Duke basketball, good cigars, good Scotch and cognac, military re-enacting, and girl watching. He may have said it was time or he may have said, “hell, no!”. And frankly, I’ll never know. As for me, I’m trending towards the “hell, no!” response so long as any Castro is alive and in power.