Labaut’s 40-Day, 10,000 Mile Trip From Hell 0

By LOU PAVLOVICH, JR.
Editor/Collegiate Baseball

TUCSON, Ariz. — Randy Labaut, along with his mom and dad, escaped from Cuba which took them on a dangerous 40-day journey to the United States in 2010 when he was just 13 years old.

It involved 10,000 miles of travel and multiple stops in strange towns with complete strangers as guides in the quest to be in the USA.

The plan to leave Cuba had its genesis many years prior as Raul and Ernestina Labaut, Randy’s parents, saved money for years with a goal putting aside $30,000 for this trip.

This was extremely difficult to accomplish since Raul and Ernestina only made $20 a month each in this Communist nation on their jobs. Raul was a truck driver while Ernestina worked at a bank. They also earned additional money to supplement this meager income.

Ultimately they saved $4,000 over many years.

Their biggest asset was their car which they sold for $16,000. The other $10,000 was chipped in by an aunt and cousin who live in the United States.

Living In Cuba
“I have great memories of Cuba as I grew up,” said Labaut, a lefthanded pitcher at the University of Arizona.

“I lived in a city called Alquizar which is about 40 minutes from Havana.

“We have a lot of family members in Cuba. Just prior to the trip, my parents’ property was changed over to a relative so the Cuban government wouldn’t take it from us once we left.

“If the property you own is in your name and you leave the country for the USA, then the property is automatically taken by the government. However, if you transfer the property to a family member, they will not take it.

“Cubans in general don’t make enough money. My father Raul and mom Ernestina would make $20 each a month, and they utilized all that for food. What your house looks like never mattered. What was important was having food on the table.

“There were many things they did to make more money. If you work on a job, the most amount of money you typically earn in Cuba is $20 a month due to Communist rule.

“What many people did for extra money was illegal. For example, if you work at a pharmacy, you have your normal job of filling prescriptions. But they also would sell medicine for extra income to people on the side.

“My brother Raul, Jr. served in the military which everyone is forced to do when they turn 18. He would tell us horrible things that officers would do to the soldiers.

“Soldiers were sleep deprived and worked long, long hours. Officers didn’t care about them. The food was horrible. People from Cuba hate their time in the military. That is another reason my parents wanted us to get out of Cuba. They did not want me to serve in the military and suffer like my brother did.”

Practicing 5 Hours A Day
At the age of 11, Randy entered a baseball academy in Cuba where he practiced five hours a day and went to school for two hours.

“You would wake up and have breakfast at 7:30 a.m. and then go to practice from 9-2 where it’s all baseball. Then from 2-4, you went to school.

“As far as those daily 5-hour practice sessions, we did everything you can imagine in baseball, such as batting practice, infield and outfield ground balls and flies, scrimmages, run 30 minutes each day, plus much more. You became great at the fundamentals because of all this work.

“I was fortunate my cousin in Cuba sent me a pair of cleats once a year and also a glove. I didn’t have a bat. I used whatever the coaches had. My entire family in Cuba was very supportive.”

Looking For Better Life
Labaut said that his mom and dad wanted to get out of Cuba so their family could have a better opportunity in life.

“They wanted me to get an education and be able to pursue what I wanted in life. They knew that if we stayed in Cuba, I wouldn’t be able to advance in life. It was the same with my brother.

“The crazy thing about Cuba is that if you go to a university in Cuba and study to be an engineer or other highly regarded job, there are times when you don’t even end up with that job when you graduate.

“You might be driving a taxi because there is no engineering job available. That’s the beauty of  being in the United States. You can literally study anything you want and can apply it to a real job of your choosing.

“Leaving Cuba was important to my parents because they had been working in Cuba for many years and not really been paid.”

The Trip
On the night of April 11, 2010, Randy’s parents told their 13-year-old son to pack up his stuff because they were leaving Cuba the next morning. This completely caught him off guard.

His only brother Raul, Jr. was serving in the Cuban military at the time and couldn’t leave.

Randy had no idea that his mom and dad had orchestrated an elaborate plan for years that would take him and his parents to the United States.

It would be the start of a harrowing 40-day journey over 10,000 miles to the United States.

To read more of this article, purchase the March 8, 2019 edition of Collegiate Baseball or subscribe by CLICKING HERE. It delves into their remarkable journey that includes a 21-day stay in a Mexico jail because they were illegally in that country, plus much more.