Cuba: Another Side of the Story
Memoirs of a Cuban Childhood
by Iris M. Diaz
- #18068 in Biography & Memoir
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Cuba: Another Side of the Story is a memoir of how life changed for many children growing up in a country slowly dying under constant political conflict. The story is told in three parts: Part I “Before Castro,” Part II “Life under Castro,” Part III “Life in Exile.” This book creates a vivid sense of time and place through childhood memories of pre- and post-Castro Cuba, from 1945 to 1967. The forty two stories, told through the voice of a child, highlight moments of injustice in the eyes of a young girl who does not understand why the world around her is so strange. Her nanny, a poor black woman, shaped her soul and showed her the other side of the story, the story of the poor who are voiceless in a world where only those who can afford to pay for elite private schools can get ahead in life. This nanny becomes the spiritual guide who enables a very sensitive young child to navigate in a confusing world. Every one of the 42 stories focuses on a moment where the child relives memories of what she witnessed growing up. The first story is dedicated to Nana, the person whose memory guides her to write her life story. The title of the stories clearly describe how Nana influenced the author and helped her see the other side of the story. “El Barrio” describes a neighborhood where the rich, middle class and the poor lived in close proximity, a reflection of what Cuban society was in the 1950’s-“Everyone lived under the same sun, moon and stars but our worlds were very different.” The chapter about “Sunday Mass” describes the well-dressed parishioners who every Sunday walked through the park next to the Church and ignored the beggars who held their arms out, palms up, hoping to get a nickel or dime. “I don’t think the beggars got any of the money the priests collected every Sunday because they came back every Sunday. I never understood why God didn’t take care of everybody the same way.” Religious conflict plus the rich versus poor struggles are present throughout the book. Castro started his revolution claiming he wanted to help the poor. In the end, everyone, including the poor, were deceived by a charismatic man who understood what the poor wanted to hear, a promise of equality for all. His communist doctrine doomed the possibility of ever achieving equality for all. During Sunday Mass the priests would often remind poor parishioners how much God loved the needy by quoting verses like, “Blessed are the poor for they shall inherit the Kingdom of God,” or “For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” Religion and poverty seem to be two themes that prevail throughout this book, expressed clearly by the voice of the author who puts into words her thoughts by writing, “I never understood why God didn’t take care of everybody the same way.” The stories “The Day the Old Cuba Died“ and “The Bay of Pigs Invasion” describe the days leading to the failed attempt by Cuban exiles to get rid of the Castro regime. All hope and dreams died. The only dream left was to find a way to leave the island. The chapter “Adios Cuba” is a vivid memory of what it means to become a political exile. “Exile is more than a change of address, it is a spiritual displacement.” This book is not a research study about Cuban maids, family, religion or politics; it is a story about a young child and the life of her nanny and maids who allowed her to enter their world, a world that many don’t dare to acknowledge.
- Xlibris US, January 2010
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