Thursday, August 6, 2020

Cuba in Revolution: Escape From a Lost Paradise

Book review written by Robert A. Waters

My son served in the U. S. Coast Guard. On patrol one day in the Florida straits, his ship came across a sad testament to humanity’s longing for freedom. Bobbing along in the waves, a wooden raft floated silently, its crew forever missing. The raft had been reinforced underneath with chunks of styrofoam and had been powered by a miniscule 1950s boat motor. Much of the styrofoam had broken free, perhaps by a storm or high waves and the vessel tilted half in the water and half out. The crew of the Coast Guard vessel stared in silence, knowing that the Cubans who had attempted to flee the oppression of communism were likely dead.

Cuba in Revolution has lots of intrigue going for it: an escape from communist Cuba that reads like a thriller; a history of Fidel Castro’s rise to power and dictatorial rule; a narrative of the way many in the American media covered up the fact that Castro was a communist; how the Soviet Union gained traction in Cuba; how the Kennedy administration betrayed the Cuban (and American) freedom fighters at the Bay of Pigs; and much, much more.

For many Cubans, Florida shines like a beacon in a dark night.

The Faria family had supported the overthrow of corrupt President Fulgencio Batista, but distrusted the communist schemes of Fidel Castro. That made them targets. Like the Roman emperors of old, the new ruler murdered anyone who could conceivably be considered a threat to his power. That included Batista backers and even his own supporters. Had they not escaped, it was only a matter of time before the Faria family would be imprisoned or worse, executed.

In 1966, thirteen-year-old Miguel and his father, a physician, made a desperate and harrowing escape from Cuba. Twenty-eight souls boarded a small, dilapidated wooden fishing boat called Venezuela Libre. After two long days and nights at sea, starving, sick, and battered by hurricane-like storms at times, or burning in the sun at other times, the little ship finally reached the Cayman Islands—and freedom. Eventually, the Faria family settled in Miami, then moved to South Carolina.

The escape was important to Miguel because, had he not fled the country, he would likely have been conscripted into the Cuban military and indoctrinated in the “virtuousness” of communism. That did not happen because Miguel’s father understood the evils of totalitarian governments.

Miguel attained the dream. He became a naturalized American citizen, graduated from medical school and became a world-renowned neurosurgeon. Today, he is an anti-communist, pro-freedom crusader.

Cuba in Revolution tells a compelling tale of how totalitarian rule can turn a prosperous, thriving nation into a backward hellhole. No wonder so many of its citizens wish to flee to the beacon up north.

This book should be required reading in our schools and colleges.

Cuba in Revolution: Escape From a Lost Paradise

By Miguel A. Faria, Jr., M.D.

Hacienda Publishing, 2002

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