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Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Revolution or Farce?: Child of the Revolution: Growing up in Castro's Cuba by Luis A. Garcia

A child in Castro's Cuba, Luis Garciawas rapidly learning to be a good revolutionary. Taught about the horrors of Cuba before Castro's revolution when poor Cubans were exploited by wealthy Americans and about the improvements of Castro, young Luis grew up wanting to join the Communists. He had doubts, however, because,as in all Communist countries, there were shortages of goods and long queues even to buy basic necessities. Luis noticed that some of his relatives, high up in the Party, were wealthy and certainly didn't suffer any shortages. He also liked the Catholic church, which wasn't looked on kindly the 'Great Leader'.

Probably the major turning point for young Luis, however, even though he still didn't want to leave was Castro's idea of improving the economy by having a huge sugar-cane crop. At one stage Castro ordered everyone on the island to work on the sugar-cane. Of course, instead of improving the economy this caused it to collapse because nobody knew how to do it except the farmers, and nobody worked in their own occupations!

Castro seems rather mad and 'Walter Mitty-ish' in this enlightening and timely book about growing up in Cuba. He had these strange ideas every now and then and made four-to-five hour speeches quite often! But growing up in Cuba was really no joke. Food shortages, spies, fear of retribution for not toeing the Party line - all this was endured reasonably patiently by Luis's parents who had owned a successful shop until the Revolution which took away much of their livelihood. They hardly had anything to sell and, eventually, the Communists who were not sympathetic with the 'petite bourgeoisie', ordered them to close the store.

When the family applied to leave Cuba Luis's father had to cut sugar-cane for years and eat hardly anything. This was apparently the usual punishment for going against the Revolution.

In spite of the serious nature of this book it isn't harrowing or dull. The accounts of the warm-hearted Cuban's traditions and the many amusing anecdotes makes it a fun book to read, although there is a deep underlying sadness about the state of the country.

For some reason, Castro seems to be regarded by many as a hero. Maybe they should read this book and learn the real story.