By Freddy Moyano
Our first installment of the “Re-rooted” series features Carlos Bofill, who happens to be a second cousin of Spanish architect, the late Ricardo Bofill.
Like Ricardo, Carlos was also born in Barcelona, Spain.
He was a few months old when his family moved to Cuba.
“I don’t remember anything about my time in Spain. It’s like I was born in Cuba and raised there” said Bofill.
He knows from his parents that they had to leave Spain due to Francisco Franco’s rise to power.
“A lot of them went to either Cuba or Argentina or the Philippines. I find it fascinating that his family had to flee regimes like Mussolini’s, Hitler’s and eventually Franco’s. They chose Cuba only to eventually have to leave due to Castro” said Bofill’s wife, Colleen Chambers, president of Chambers Travel in the Green Bay area.
“My mom had a PHD in education. My father was an engineer who worked for the Cuban power company. They had great times in Cuba. They were successful,” he added.
He said his parents enrolled him in the best school there was in Cuba at the time — Catholic private.
Bofill considers himself “very lucky” for the great education he received.
His father decided to send him to military school here in the United States, in Milledgeville, Ga.
He eventually joined Georgia Institute of Technology, graduating there as an electrical engineer.
Through his career, his path took him to Georgia, California, New Mexico, Florida, Connecticut, Mexico City, Puerto Rico and Oregon, eventually landing in Green Bay.
Opening a travel agency kept him in the Green Bay area and he said that he does not mind the winter “too much.”
When Fidel Castro took over Cuba, Bofill was still attending college in Georgia.
Castro gave everyone an opportunity to move out of the country if they so chose — with one suitcase and $100, leaving all possessions behind.
Bofill’s parents chose to move, because they did not like the environment.
Carlos acted quickly to bring them to Georgia legally and fully sponsored within four months.
“The Cuban revolution was known as the watermelon revolution, because it was green on the outside and red on the inside” Bofill said, adding that Cuba was a very wealthy country prior to the arrival of Castro.
Bofill has never returned to Cuba since his father first sent him to the U.S.
He said he saw a similar example in Venezuela, which used to be a very rich country with oil resources.
“I’m retired from the telecommunications industry, and I’ve been in the U.S. for 62 years. [Colleen] brought me to Green Bay” he said.
Bofill still remembers well when he first met Chambers working in Portland Oreg.
When Bofill needed tickets to travel the next day, he was told by his assistant that the delivery person to bring the tickets was unavailable.
Eventually Colleen showed up at Bofill’s office with his tickets.
“I liked her immediately; we started dating and the rest is history,” he recalled.
Bofill has traveled for work most of his life.
He has visited over 70 countries.
He and Chambers lived in the Dominican Republic in 1989, not long after they met.
The following year, Bofill was offered a job as director of Cellular Phone Latin America for Motorola.
He was in charge of forming companies and of implementing cellular technology in many countries across Latin America.
Bofill was part of a project that launched over 60 satellites in space to enable cellular service from anywhere in the world.
While he likes the Packers, Bofill said he has a passion for baseball and the Milwaukee Brewers.
Although he has never returned to Cuba, Bofill follows daily updates from the country he grew up in.
Bofill and Chambers often visit Little Havana in Miami to re-experience the culture and cuisine of his roots. “Throughout all my travels and experience throughout my life, I would like to add ‘I love this country,’” he added.