Roig Takes His Success Home

A decade ago, Primerica representative John Roig was enjoying a night out with his wife Gloria near his hometown of Miami, FL, when he was stirred by old emotions he had not felt in many years. As he sat in the audience of the Coconut Grove Playhouse watching a performer singing an old Cuban melody, John began to yearn for his homeland.

John had not been back to Cuba since the summer of 1960, when Fidel Castro came to power. He was 15 years old then and had been spending his summers there since 1953, when his parents left Cuba to settle in America.

Since that summer so very long ago, John had lost touch with his many aunts, uncles and cousins with whom he had been very close as a child. Then, sitting in the playhouse in 1999, at 55, a successful business owner with Primerica earning more than $500,000 a year, the memories came flooding back. He turned to his wife with tears streaming down his face and said, “I’ve got to go back to Cuba.”

Since that time, John has not only returned to Cuba many times, but he has been able financially to help his many relatives who have been impoverished as a result of Castro’s regime.


Before the trip, he called his favorite aunt from childhood, the one with whom he had always stayed as a child, to ask if he could bring her a special gift. She requested a toothbrush. He promised to bring all his relatives toothbrushes and asked her again if she would like something special from America. “Well, it’s been 35 years since I last tasted peanut butter,” she answered.

“I was really in a dilemma,” he says, “because I wanted to bring her something special and all she wanted was peanut butter, which is nothing here. I went down to the local food store and cried like a baby when I looked at all the brands and styles of peanut butter so readily available on the shelf. It made me realize how much we take for granted in America.”

Upon his arrival in Cuba, John was surprised to see more than 50 relatives, most of whom he no longer recognized, waiting to greet him. He and Gloria brought the most goods they were allowed to bring into the country — 40 pounds of clothing and 20 pounds of medical supplies, as well as 60 toothbrushes and enough peanut butter to last his aunt a long time.

After all the introductions, hugs and tears, John was shocked to discover that none of his relatives owned a car. He had sent money to his aunt for a rental car to pick him up, but the rest of his relatives had walked five miles to the airport. And his aunt’s home, once the nicest on the block, was rundown. It had not been painted in years, and the plumbing no longer worked. The $110 water pump had broken three years before, and the family could not afford to replace it.

Not only was John able to help with the water pump, but on later trips, he bought refrigerators and stoves for all his relatives and financed improvements to their homes. He made a decision to return there every year. Later, he helped one of his cousins move to America, find a place to live and a job, paying more than $10,000 to make it happen.


“Because of our business with Primerica, we were able to do so much for my family,” he says. “Not only could we help financially but we could afford to give the time. We could get away so easily. On my first visit, I was able to stay for 10 days. There is no doubt in my mind that the money we’ve spent has come back to us. Our business has gotten even stronger since we decided to go to Cuba. Without Primerica, I couldn’t do this for my family. I’m no hero. I’m just doing what anybody would do for their family.”

Privacy Preference Center