Book Review of Cuba in Revolution — Escape From a Lost Paradise. Reviewed by Russell L. Blaylock, MD

Article Type: 
Book Review
Published Date: 
Friday, January 11, 2002

Most of us who enjoy reading books concerning our world, especially those dealing with acts of courage arising from human tragedy, find a few works that have a lasting effect on our lives, not just because of the subject, but because of the way in which it is presented. Few writers can fill the reader with an overwhelming sense of emotion that normally only comes with first hand experience. I found this in Alexandr Solzhenitsyn's The Gulag Archipelago and Armando Valladares' Against all Hope.

A newly released book written by a very close friend of mine, Miguel Faria, called Cuba in Revolution. Escape From a Lost Paradise, now joins the ranks of these two previously mentioned works. Dr. Faria, a retired neurosurgeon and Editor-in-Chief of the Medical Sentinel, has captured the Cuban experience and much more. We not only learn of the terror of living in a communist island gulag under the control of a criminal thug, but we also are offered solutions to our own dilemma --- galloping socialism.

In the first of the book he takes us through the beginnings of the communist revolution, but through different eyes than such work is often presented, that is, from a writer who has not lived the events. We are fortunate to have an author who either personally knew, or his parents knew, many of the players in this horrifying tragedy, including the dashing revolutionary murderer, Che Guevara.

Those of us who have read many of the works on communist revolutions are familiar with the absolute terror of the knock on the door in the middle of the night, the slaughter of the founders of the revolution, trained mobs, and the bloodthirsty secret police seemly everywhere, probing in everyone's life, looking for a hint of discontent with the new paradise. It is all there and more.

When you read a book describing the total destruction of a people, you want some sort of satisfaction, some glimmer of hope. Dr. Faria gives us this with his portrait of not only the villains and traitors, but also the heroes and the courageous, whose names and courageous acts might have gone unknown except for this magnificent book. For example, the brave alzados anticommunist fighters who took on tens of thousands of Castro's elite troops, winning many victories, are given ample room in this book.

The stories of immense human courage, while bringing you to tears, also fills you with hope for the world, knowing that there are still men left in the world of such a caliber. Particularly touching was the story of the young Pedro Luis Boitel thrown in a prison where he was starved, beaten daily and tortured beyond human endurance for the crime of disagreeing with the supreme leader. During imprisonment his legs became infected secondary to the torture wounds. At that point he weighed a mere eighty pounds. He was denied medical attention and eventually both of his legs had to be amputated. He still refused to yield to his torturers. Not satisfied, Castro ordered him thrown in an even worse dungeon where he soon died. This story was to be repeated thousands of times.

The chapters covering Dr. Faria and his father's escape bring realism to the story of so many Cubans. When we hear that 36,000 Cubans have lost their lives in an attempt to escape Castro's gulag, we may shutter slightly, but there is little humanity in a number, no matter how large. We learned from the tragedy of 911 that putting a human face on a tragedy opens up a whole new reality --- they are just like us. Dr. Faria gives a face to the 36,000 who have perished.

Dr. Faria also gives us an inside picture of the ill-fated Bay of Pigs invasion and the resulting emboldment of Nikita Khrushchev that led to the building of the Berlin Wall and the Cuban Missile Crisis. He also makes a most important point, that none of this would have been possible except for sympathizers in the U.S. State Department and the American media working on behalf of Castro and his henchmen. They ignored Castro's brutality and growing stranglehold on the Cuban people.

The book contains a George Orwell quote about a hapless future in totalitarianism that I particularly like, " Imagine a boot stamping on a human face forever." This was especially true for the Cuban family; the State's hobnailed boot was always pressing them down. Like Hillary Clinton and the other American socialists, Castro knew that his greatest enemy was the family, the true autonomous unit in any society --- the last vestige of freedom.

As proclaimed by Hillary Clinton in her book, It Takes a Village, Castro also boldly stated that the children belong to the State. Forced labor and indoctrination disguised as education was enforced with a gun. Children were forcibly taken away from their parents at a tender age and made to do hard labor in the cane and tobacco fields. The American media saw it as Cuban patriotism, as did the useful idiot American students who travel to Cuba with the Venceremos Brigades.

Within a few short decades, Castro managed to convert a prosperous, well-educated island of mostly cheerful people into a nation of depressed, frightened, and starving peasants. Dr. Faria points out that in 1992, the average Cuban was allowed only a meager monthly food ration, consisting of 6 pounds of rice, 4 pounds of potatoes, 12 ounces of chicken and 10 ounces of beans. Starving children, who dared to sneak into the government-owned fields, were shot by soldiers. These rations have not changed much for ordinary Cubans.

One of the most emotional parts of the book is Dr. Faria's telling of the Elian Gonzalez's story, certainly one of America's darkest hours. Yet, it reveals aspects of the story never told in the "major media," that is the leftist media. Particularly telling, is the involvement of major corporations, Black Caucus and churches in assisting Castro in kidnapping a child.

Other important chapters go into dept concerning the media's involvement in Cuba's plight, the drug connection, Castro's support of terrorism, the medical care hoax in Cuba, to essential role of gun control in capturing the nation, and the education (indoctrination) system in Cuba.

Now that Castro is in his seventies, and reported to be in ill health, we must consider the prospects of a post-Fidel Cuba. Dr. Faria covers the subject with great scholarship that not only explores politics and economics, but also the area of natural law. His dissertation on the political framework and the economics of liberty would make the great freedom economists Ludwig von Mises and F.A. Hayek proud.

The appendix of the book contains some valuable documents connecting Castro to international terrorism, drug smuggling, and extensive espionage in the United States. One of the documents exposes a frightening penetration of the Pentagon by a Cuban DGI agent working in a sensitive area of intelligence.

This is a book that you will not want to sell or give to a friend, but rather it will be a treasure to be guarded!

Reviewed by Russell L. Blaylock, MD
Reprinted from, Friday, Jan. 11, 2002

Russell L. Blaylock, MD, Jackson, Mississippi. Dr. Blaylock is a member of the Editorial Board of the Medical Sentinel, the official, peer-reviewed journal of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS).




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Obama in Cuba!

HAVANA (AP; March 20, 2016) — Stepping into history, President Barack Obama opened an extraordinary visit to Cuba on Sunday, eager to push decades of acrimony deeper into the past and forge irreversible ties with America's former adversary. "It is wonderful to be here," he said.

Obama's whirlwind trip is a crowning moment in his and Cuban President Raul Castro's ambitious effort to restore normal relations between their countries. While deep differences persist, the economic and political relationship has changed rapidly in the 15 months since the leaders vowed a new beginning.

Wielding an umbrella on a rainy Havana afternoon, the president stepped off of Air Force One and was greeted by top Cuban officials — but not Raul Castro. The Cuban leader frequently greets major world figures upon their arrival at Jose Marti International Airport, but was absent on the tarmac. Instead, he planned to greet Obama on Monday at Palace of the Revolution…

Dr. Miguel Faria: Recently I was questioned about Castro and Cuba by a person traveling to the communist island:

“...My wife and I are in the very early stages of considering a possible visit to Cuba (maybe for our 25th anniversary, in a year); do you have any thoughts you might be able to share?

"Has anything changed politically over the years in the last 16 months? Why have tensions between the U.S. and Cuba began to ease?… I grew up in Tampa, FL, and so have always had a curiosity regarding Cuba. I anticipate that the American people will be free to travel to Cuba fairly soon, and I would probably prefer to go before that happens. Any other thoughts you may have would certainly be appreciated."

Dr Miguel Faria: Yes, let' begin with the same suggestions I made for President Jimmy Carter several years ago:

One really needs to to go with his eyes wide open and not subject to Potemkin villages and Obama political propaganda. I can of course recommend my book, Cuba in Revolution — Escape from a Lost Paradise (2002) followed with my more recent articles dealing with specific topics on Cuba — e.g., damage to the environment, hunting, espionage, medical care, plight of professionals as well as the jineteras! etc.

If you read my book you will find I do not come from a reactionary background. I come from a family of Revolutionaries who worked and fought in the underground against Batista, and just in the nick of time my father and I escaped with the communist secret police on our trail...

Here are two reviews of my book:

The situation in Cuba has not changed at all! Political and economic repression continues and like in Animal farm, socially, some animals are more equal than others. Obama just made this issue happened as one of his centerpieces in foreign policy. After all he is a Marxist. And Hugo Chavez (dictator of Venezuela now deceased) himself told Fidel that Obama is one of us! Fidel Castro is still alive, an evil genius who "abdicated" to his brother because of his health and to make sure that his regime did not die with him! Raul has been his sidekick and executioner from the time in the Sierra Maestra.

Things have changed little except for the U.S.-Cuba one-sided rapprochement in which Obama gave away the store... Consider: Dr. Oscar Elias Biscet, an Afro-Cuban physician, Antunes, and the others, prisoners of conscience who you read about in my articles, are still in jail for their political beliefs (free election and freedom of conscience!) and in the case of Biscet, his deep Christian faith.

Before the Revolution in 1959, Cuba was a la par with most European countries; Pre-revolutionary Cuban standard of living highest in Latin-America was destroyed by the Castro brothers and communism!

If you read all this material, you should be well prepared not to allow anyone to pull wool over your eyes! ---MAF

Cuban torturers of American POWS?

"Obama Urged to Press Havana on Cuban Interrogation of American POWs — White House silent on whether Obama will seek answers from Castro on Cuban torturers in Vietnam

"President Obama is being urged to raise the issue of Cuban interrogators who tortured American prisoners of war during the Vietnam War and killed at least one of them.

“ 'President Obama during his current trip to Cuba should ask its leaders to identify those Cubans who participated in the torture of American POWs in Hanoi in what was termed the Cuban Program,' said Mike Benge, a former POW and member of the National Alliance of Families, a POW activist group.

"Obama and his family arrived in Cuba on Sunday as part of his push to normalize relations with the communist dictatorship in power on the island since 1959.

"U.S. officials said Cuban government repression has increased since the president made the diplomatic overture to Cuba during secret talks that began in the middle of 2013. Diplomatic ties were recently restored...

Bill Gertz, The Washington Free Beacon, March 21, 2016

What does this mean for Cubans?

News: "Easing Path Out of Country, Cuba Is Dropping Exit Visas" by Damien Cave, New York Times, Oct 12, 2012.

My response:

When the pressure builds up, the Castro brothers know how to let off steam, particularly with the complaisant and all too ready to believe (and please) American media. Sadly, of my immediate relatives, the ones I grew up with as a child, after 50 years of communist rule, are 6 feet under now, or broken by the regime, or aging refuges all over the globe wandering in foreign lands, and the new generation, "children of the Revolution," grown up in socialism knows nothing of hard work, free enterprise and success, but know only of doing as they were told and collectivism.

I'm not certain the new Cuban travelers (and potential immigrants) will be of the same political and economic fiber as in previous waves like those in former migrations who came and conquered in Miami, New Jersey, and elsewhere. I suspect also that Raul Castro will ask for hard cash in dollars or Euros that Cubans getting paid an average of $400 pesos (or $20 dollars per month) can not afford, as some of the Cubans in the article intimated. Moreover, as the article stated:

"Cubans can be denied the right to leave for reasons of “defense and national security,” according to the new law, suggesting that dissidents will face the same restrictions as always.

"Cuba's Doctors, scientists, military officers and other professionals, who have also long faced tight restrictions on travel, may be ineligible as well because and the new policy includes a major caveat allowing the government to limit departures to 'preserve the human capital created by the Revolution in the face of the theft of talent applied by the powerful.' ”

It will take years of learning and adjustments for the new immigrants. In any event, it is too little and definitely too late! As the Cubans in Miami and in the island say “We’ll see.” MAF

Prof. Juan M. Del Aguila– Kudos!

Distinguished Associate Professor Juan M. Del Aguila of Emory University, Political Science department, is retiring this summer 2012. He will be missed by his colleagues and students!

"Del Aguila arrived at Emory in 1979, after earning a PhD from the University of North Carolina. Having fled Cuba as a young child, his scholarly focus was on Cuban politics and the Fidel Castro regime in particular. Del Aguila’s dozens of scholarly and popular articles establish him as an internationally known expert on Cuban politics, and his landmark book on Cuban politics has been reissued several times.

"His commitment to scholarship has been matched by his devotion to teaching and to the smooth functioning of the department and university. He was director of Emory’s Center for International Studies for more than a decade, and he played a critical role in helping craft the international studies major, now one of Emory College’s most popular concentrations.

"The department will be a less colorful place without del Aguila. Students do not soon forget his passionate, booming voice in lectures. Faculty will miss his presence in department life on and off campus. He relates, 'The activities in which I participated outside the classroom—playing poker, coaching the department softball team, going to ball games with colleagues, playing very competitive basketball games with and against psychologists, sociologists, economists, cardiologists, and administrators, and the banter and humor during lunches—all added to the satisfaction of working and playing with brilliant minds.' ”–Political Science News Summer 2012

"Juan M. del Aguila is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Emory University in Atlanta. A specialist in comparative politics, del Aguila focuses his research on Latin American and Cuban politics and government. Current interests include the role of Cuban elites and dissident organizations in a future transition from communist rule. He is the author of Cuba, Dilemmas of a Revolution (Westview Press 1994, 3rd ed). Chapters by del Aguila appear in numerous collections, including Latin American Politics and Development (Westview 2006, 6th ed), Cuban Communism (Transaction Publishers 1998), Conflict and Change in Cuba (University of New Mexico Press 1993), and The Cuban Military Under Castro (University of Miami 1989). His articles appear in such journals as Cuban Studies, Current History, Emory Law Journal, Global Affairs, and the Journal of Interamerican Studies and World Affairs.

"Previously Del Aguila served as Director of the Emory Center for International Studies, a contributing editor of the Handbook of Latin American Studies, and a member of the advisory board of Cuban Studies. He received his Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill." Cuba Study Group

In our (haciendapub) opinion, Cuba — Dilemmas of a Revolution by Juan M. del Aguila (1994) remains a masterpiece of political science. It is a well researched, well-written, and porperly-annotated but concise book by Prof. Juan del Aguila. It remains an essential tome for the Cuban economic and political faction researcher in the early days of the Revolution.