Dominguez Faced Brutal Childhood In Cuba

Editor/Collegiate Baseball

PEORIA, Ill. — Bradley University Head Baseball Coach Elvis Dominguez is living proof that dire situations can ultimately lead to a wonderful life.

Born in Cienfuegos, Cuba, he witnessed how brutal the Fidel Castro Communist regime was when thousands had every possession taken away from them, including his loving dad Jose, mom Enoilda and brother Henry.  

Castro orchestrated the overthrow of Cuban President Fulgencio Batista in 1959. As a young boy, Elvis personally witnessed an execution.

“When I was four or five years old, I remember the Communists coming out and executing somebody just because they didn’t follow the doctrine of Communist rule,” said Dominguez.

“They made examples of people by doing this. They didn’t care who saw these acts take place, including young children.

“Castro took everything away from my family when he came into power,” said Dominguez.

“I was born in 1963 which was right after Castro had taken over. My dad was an air traffic controller. As a kid, you had to make a choice. Either you were a communist and were abiding by it or you were not. Those who did not fall in line, everything was taken from them.

“My dad made a decision that our family wouldn’t stay in Cuba. He did not want to abide by their laws. By the time I turned five, my father was taken away from my mom, brother and me. Cuba was big into the sugar trade way back then.

“So they forced him to cut sugar cane alongside some great lawyers, engineers and doctors who also wanted to leave Cuba. It was like a work camp.

“For the next 3 1/2 to four years, I saw my dad once a month. And then he was only able to be with us for a couple of hours. As a kid, you celebrate Christmas in Cuba on January 6 which is called the Epiphany. I remember going up to a counter and having to choose one toy. That is all you were given, and that’s what you could play with for the next 12 months.

“It was the same way with food as it was rationed. How much you received depended on how many were in your family. You were given so many pounds of this and that. It was the same way with clothing. We were treated this way because we weren’t Communist.

“We had no normal communication on a telephone with friends and relatives. If you wanted to make a call, my mom or dad had to go down to a complex where a person listened as they made a call.

“You probably have heard that anything in Cuba that was sent out or shipped in was opened. That was so true. Everyone who was not a communist lived in fear all the time, and that’s what they wanted.

“One of the most vivid images I still have is placing bread under water to soften it up to be able to eat. Many times, that was all that was available to eat. Cuban bread when it is freshly made is like an Italian loaf. The outside is really hard and inside is softer. When you let it sit around for days and days, you can essentially bounce Cuban bread off the floor it is so hard.

“The only other option to make this bread eatable was to put a little oil on it and salt. We didn’t have much.”

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