Cuban-born artist Mario Petrirena immigrated to the United States in 1962 at the age of eight. As one of 14,000 children who arrived in the United States in what was called Operation Pedro Pan, Petrirena and his siblings lived in an orphanage in Colorado for nearly a year before reuniting with their parents in Belle Glade, Florida. It was in this small town next to Lake Okeechobee where Petrirena received his initiation in American culture. He says, “Most of the Cubans that came early on thought that Fidel would fall and they would be able to go back and Cuba would resume as a democracy or a better Cuba. At first they really believed that. There was always a real appreciation about what this country had to offer as far as the ideals – the freedom of speech and being able to vote for a presid

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