Act 1 opens in December, 1999, in Federico’s New York apartment. Federico, like Eduardo Machado himself, was one of the 14,048 children of Operation Pedro Pan, a secret operation administered by Roman Catholic charities with support from the U.S. government. Cuban parents sent unaccompanied children to Florida between 1960 and 1962, fearing that Cuban dictator Fidel Castro would take legal custody of them and indoctrinate them to be obedient communists.
Fred enters; they are going to visit Federico’s native Cuba together, after thirty-eight years of exile since his parents sent him to the United States. Federico is reluctant and explains the angst of the exile: “Disoriented or unrequited? I do not know the answer to that. Was I thrown out or did I walk away from my country? Did I decide to leave or was I tricked?”
In Havana, Cuba, Federico is nervous as they ride in a cab driven by Ernesto, who provides political and historic context for their conversation. Ernesto asks, “So you went on the Peter Pan flights?” He explains to Fred, “So many kids, thirteen thousand. Sent to the U.S. Like cattle, all because of a CIA plot. . . . ” Ernesto loves Cuba but not the American “imperialists,” and he blames the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) for the exodus of those children. Ernesto is pleased about the easing of travel restrictions that Castro calls “family reconciliation,” but Federico replies that it is more like “dollar reconciliation.”
They search for the house of Federico’s early childhood. Federico and Fred play with a video camera, quoting the lines of the character Blanche...
(The entire section is 672 words.)