Who is Miguel Bezos? Meet The Cuban Immigrant That Adopted Jeff Bezos

Miguel Bezos is a Cuban-born immigrant who is the adoptive father of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. Jeff’s mom initially had him when she was still a high school teenager and ended up marrying his biological father. The union only lasted for a year and she soon found herself caring alone for her son. Help and companionship would later come in the form of a college schoolmate named Miguel Bezos. Bezos had initially immigrated to the U.S. as an unaccompanied teen in a process that was quite daunting.

Things were made more precarious by the fact that he spoke no word of English and had no family waiting for him on the other side. The odds were stacked against the young fellow but he deployed extraordinary grit, determination, and optimism to achieve the American dream. It is these same qualities that are highly cherished by his adoptive son who has deployed it to become the richest man to walk the face of the earth.

Miguel Bezos Originally Hails From Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

The incredible story of Miguel Bezos goes way back to 1946 when he was born in the town of Santiago de Cuba, Cuba. He hailed from a family of five comprising of his dad, his mom, a brother, and a sister. Bezos’ dad lacked formal education but boasted of an impressive business acumen which he utilized to set up a lumber mill. His mom, on the other hand, was largely a stay-at-home mom but she also had a store where she sold fabric and baby clothes.

Thanks to such actively occupied parents, the Bezos family was relatively well off, and as such their house became a rallying point for cousins who came from the village to the city to get a university education. The young Miguel, therefore, grew up surrounded by a litany of cousins. Such made for a bustling household and the young boy relished it all. His happiness would, however, be cut short after Fidel Castro led a successful revolution and took over the Cuban government in 1959.

Miguel Bezos
A young Miguel Bezos with his siblings Image Source

He Fled To The USA At The Age Of 16 Following The Cuban Revolution

When the revolutionaries took control of the Cuban government in 1959, they enthroned a communist system. They nationalized industries owned by foreigners. They also seized the properties and businesses of private citizens. One of those affected in this regard was Miguel’s father but he remained calm. He and his wife were, however, alarmed after the government took over schools and began implementing a communist curriculum. This curriculum required kids to learn military drills, bear arms, and the couple was afraid for their child’s future.

They, therefore, arranged to have Miguel migrate to the U.S. under a clandestine program run by the Catholic Church for that purpose. The program was nicknamed Operation Pedro Pan and Miguel Bezos made it to the city of Miami in 1962. He was aged 16 and had nothing on him except three pairs of pants, three shirts, three pairs of underwear, one pair of shoes, and a coat that his mom made out of cleaning rags and knitting materials. Upon arrival in Miami, Miguel Bezos and hundreds of other kids were initially housed at a Camp Matecumbe.

Miguel Bezos
With high school roommates and cousin, Angel, in Wilmington, Delaware Image Source

Those who had relatives in the U.S. were then claimed by their people. Those that did not have relatives, such as Miguel, stayed in camp until foster arrangements could be made for them. In Miguel Bezos’ case, he and a cousin were sent to the city of Wilmington, Delaware, where they lived in the Salesianum House. This was a school run by Catholic charities and both boys completed their high school diploma there. They then moved to the city of Washington D.C. where they shared a one-bedroom apartment with two other relatives.

Miguel Bezos Holds a College Degree From University of Albuquerque and Worked For Exxon Mobil For 32 Years

While in D.C., Miguel Bezos picked up a couple of odd jobs and scouted for scholarships that would enable him to attend college. He later landed one and was able to make it into the University of Albuquerque, New Mexico. During his college days, Bezos took several math and physics courses. He also took a few engineering courses and at one point, thought of pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering. He was, however, told that this would take an additional year to complete and he decided to walk away with his B.SC.

This was in 1968 and as fate would have it, the young man scored an interview with Exxon. He was successful and was offered a job with the company. This marked the beginning of a three-decade run during which Miguel was posted to different parts of the United States and even beyond. He held various engineering and managerial positions and was able to give his family the proverbial American dream. Miguel Bezos is now retired and one can say that he came, saw, and conquered in the U.S. He has never forgotten his roots though. He sees himself as Cuban and American and is extremely proud of his heritage as well as his accomplishments.

Miguel Bezos
With wife, Jacklyn and son, Jeff Bezos Image Source

Miguel Bezos is The Co-Founder and Vice Chairman of the Bezos Family Foundation

Miguel Bezos met his wife, Jacklyn, during his days at the University of Albuquerque. At that time, she was a single mom to little Jeff and they took a fancy to each other. They later tied the knot in 1968 and Miguel formally adopted the then-four-year-old. The couple would welcome two other kids, namely Mark and Christina, and remain together till this very day. They are largely retired and Miguel spends his time as the vice-chairman of the non-profit he co-founded known as the Bezos Family Foundation.

The foundation is targeted at improving the lives of young people through education and has made substantial investments in research, public awareness, advocacy, and programs. They sponsor a scholars program at the Aspen Institute. They also have a student’s rebuild program which offers younger adults a dynamic way to connect, learn about, and take action on critical global and local issues. In June 2021, Miguel Bezos donated $12 million to the catholic school that housed and educated him upon his arrival from Cuba. The donation will be used to fund 24 scholarships for children of immigrants living in Wilmington. It will also cover their incidental expenses such as books, retreats, service trips, and college entrance exams fees.

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