Skip to main content

Lala Suarez Mooney of eastern panhandle reflects on life in Castro’s Cuba


CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. (WDVM) — It has been six decades since a bleak time in U.S. military history — the failed U.S. invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs. An eastern panhandle resident was there and has many unsettling memories of the experience.

It is a sad moment, relived by a woman who escaped Cuban prison. Lala Suarez-Mooney, who now lives in Charles Town, was only a child, but she remembers well how Fidel Castro took control of Cuba by force. Revolutionary soldiers barged into her home one day.

“They said, ‘You have been making phone calls and you have been doing underground work against the government. Everybody 12 years and older goes to prison,’” she said.

Women, even those pregnant, were terrorized with water hoses. Her family even had a gruesome encounter with communist revolutionary Che Guevara.

Suarez-Mooney said, “There at the fortress my dad could hear the execution and they were saying that Che Guevara loved executions and he had a special window where he would watch them and that he write to his father and said ‘I love blood and the more I smell it the more I like it.’”

Now years later, Suarez-Mooney appreciates being able to live the American dream.

“One thing that communism does is acts of terror and they plan them and that’s how they keep everybody scared,” said Suarez-Mooney.

Things are still very challenging for Cubans today. The country, once a leading exporter of sugar, now imports it from Brazil. Suarez-Mooney says she is most grateful for the freedom she has here in the United States. She wrote a book about her experience in Cuba, and she also happens to be the proud mother of U.S. Representative Alex Mooney of West Virginia’s second congressional district.