The Plight of Pepito: Cuba’s Lost Generation

Information for Teachers

The Film

Background Information

Between 1959 and the 1990s, over one million Cuban refugees fled their homeland for the United States. President John F. Kennedy authorized the Cuban Refugee Assistance Program (CRA) in the early 1960s to help alleviate the plight of Cuban refugees and ease the financial burden on the state of Florida created by the influx of refugees.

This film follows the experience of a fictional Cuban refugee named Pepito and his family. The film portrays the family’s arrival in the United States, their processing at the Cuban refugee assistance center, and the types of aid provided by the CRA.

Teachers should instruct students to put themselves into Pepito’s position. This film helps students understand the experience of Cuban refugees, who often arrived in the United States with few possessions and great uncertainty.

Use to Illustrate:

  • The experience of Cuban refugees in the United States, especially children.
  • The activities of the Cuban Refugee Assistance Program.
  • An example of the perspective of the American media on the Cuban refugee crisis.

Questions for Students

  1. What types of services were provided by the Cuban Refugee Assistance Program (CRA)?
  2. What can you learn about the experience of Cuban refugees through the story of Pepito?

Sample Answers

  1. The Cuban Refugee Assistance Program (CRA) provided health, employment and educational services to Cuban refugees. (Students should elaborate on the specific services depicted in the film that are of most interest to them.)
  2. (Answers will vary. Teachers should encourage students to try and put themselves in Pepito’s position. Teachers should focus on basic ideas about finding clothes, food, shelter, etc., which would have been typical of the Cuban refugee experience upon arriving in the United States.)

Additional Relevant NGSSS

  • SS.912.A.7.16: Examine changes in immigration policy and attitudes towards immigration since 1950.
  • SS.4.A.8.2: Describe how and why immigration impacts Florida today.
  • SS.912.A.7.11: Analyze the foreign policy of the United States as it relates to Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Latin America, and the Middle East.
  • SS.912.W.8.2: Describe characteristics of the early Cold War.
  • SS.7.C.4.3: Describe examples of how the United States has dealt with international conflicts.

Common Core

  • LACC.K12.W.3.8: Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism.
  • LACC.K12.R.3.7: Integrate and evaluate content presented in diverse media and formats, including visually and quantitatively, as well as in words.