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Adios, Havana is a true account of romance and peril, adventure and patriotism. Fueled by love-love of family, of country, and of each other-a young couple must face...
Adios, Havana is a true account of romance and peril, adventure and patriotism. Fueled by love-love of family, of country, and of each other-a young couple must face the most wrenching of choices: remain in the country they cherish, lose the wealth and position their families strove for generations to attain, and watch their children grow up impoverished under a terrifying regime; or risk escaping with no money or possessions and leave behind all they have ever known to begin a new life in a strange land.
A legacy to future generations, this memoir is intended to remind readers of the fragility of freedom . . . to describe the disintegration of a prosperous civilized society and offer counsel on how to prevent a similar catastrophe from happening in America . . . and to show how and why penniless refugees flourish in the land of the free-why anyone who resists oppression would be driven to tell his beloved homeland, Adios.
Posted September 11, 2009
I don't read a lot of memoirs. Not that I don't enjoy that branch of literature, but I read more novels, history, and historical fiction. After following threads on the Amazon community forums, however, "Adios, Havana" piqued my interest, and since I had recently read "Havana Nocturne," it was a good follow-up book.
Mr. Rodriguez has written a marvelous memoir of his life in Cuba before Castro took over in 1959, his life in Cuba under Castro, and his subsequent emigration to the United States. His writing style is simple and straightforward with no wasted words, almost like he's speaking out loud to the reader. The author's description of pre-revolution Cuba is almost poetic in his love of the land and its people, as well as the surrounding sea.
The author is only a few years older than me, so I remember the events he recounts, such as the revolution, the Bay of Pigs, and the Cuban missile crisis. Of course I experienced them from the safety of Atlanta, Georgia, in a free country. Some of the personal incidents Mr. Rodriquez describes after Castro took over are heartbreaking and sickening, to see how Cuba was changed under communism. In one chapter, the local school children were forced to pray to God for ice cream, which didn't come. Next they were forced to pray to Castro for ice cream, and the ice cream magically appeared. The communist training wasn't very subtle. And it was brutal, as exemplified by the treatment of one of the author's cousins, who committed the crime of depositing a few pieces of jewelry with friends in Canada. Her punishment? Life in a filthy political prison, left to die slowly of breast cancer without treatment or medication.
The memoir has its touching moments though, especially of the author's courtship of his future bride Margarita. And ultimately the author and Margarita are allowed to leave Cuba and move to the United States. After struggling to make a living in Miami, they move to Colorado, where a church and some very caring people adopt them and help them start their new life. Over the next few years, the Rodriguezes have children and adapt to life in the US, with Mr. Rodriguez achieving great success in a business he started.
"Adios, Havana" is one of the best memoirs that I've read, and I highly recommend it for anyone. I especially recommend it to anyone who has the mistaken idea that Castro and his communist cronies have somehow been good for Cuba and its people the last fifty years. Don't ask me - ask someone who lived under his tyranny, like Mr. Rodriguez.
At the end of the book, Mr. Rodriguez answers a question that I wanted to ask: Have you or your children visited Cuba since becoming US citizens? His reply: No, never again until the bastard is gone.