Deputy Mayor Overcomes Storms, Stormy Childhood

Bill Vidal's New Book Details Journey From Cuban Exile To City Leader

Denver's deputy mayor and manager of Public Works took some lumps last winter as a result of the city's slow snow removal efforts.

But just as he endured a stormy childhood as a Cuban exile, Guillermo Vidal endured last year's storms as one of life's challenges.

Vidal now has a new book about personal redemption and a new plan on how to tackle Old Man Winter.

He was the man in charge in Denver during last year's brutal storms.

"I felt like we moved Heaven and Earth," said Vidal.

Despite the criticism hurled at him by many Denver residents, Vidal still praises the snow-removal efforts of his department.

"In spite of the difficulty that I know people felt because of the blizzard and all the issues, I kept reflecting how, in my own life, that separation from my parents, and how difficult that life in the orphanage was in comparison," Vidal said.

The difficulties and suffering of his childhood as a Cuban-born immigrant are now unveiled in Vidal's book "Boxing For Cuba."

"Fidel Castro took over in 1959. By 1961 the situation had deteriorated so much in my parents' eyes, that they decided to send my brother and I to the United States unaccompanied," said Vidal.

The memoir details that journey, includes photos like the last day he and his brother ever spent on the Cuban beach and offers Vidal's perspective on Cuba's turbulent history.

"I think it speaks about the desperation that fuels people to take incredible risks to come to the United States," said Vidal. "Our struggle was not about overcoming poverty, but politics."

Vidal's family was considered upper-middle class. His father owned a hotel and other businesses and his family's lifestyle was one where they did not have to worry about doing without.

"My parents had nannies, and a cook, and they had a gardener," said Vidal.

But they were forced to start over in America.

"We've never begrudged my parents because we knew, even for all the suffering that we went through, we were old enough to witness the kind of sense of chaos that existed in Cuba at the time," said Vidal.

Vidal and his brother were sent to an orphanage in Pueblo, Colo. His parents finally made it to the United States 3 1/2 years later. His mother is still living here in Denver.

The title of the book is a metaphor for Vidal's life.

"You get up every round and you have to persevere and you get a little respite in between and then you have a new challenge," said Vidal.

Vidal appears to be ready for his next challenge, which he admits could very well be another brutal winter, a far cry from the tropical beaches of Cuba.

"You have to be able to move simultaneously, move equipment out to address the neighborhood streets. You can't wait for it to accumulate," said Vidal of the lessons learned from last winter.

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