Pichon: Race and Revolution in Castro's Cuba: A Memoir

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Revolutionary black nationalist Carlos Moore breaks three decades of silence to challenge Castro’s legacy in this controversial, behind-the-scenes memoir that explores the Revolution from a perspective of a pichón, the racist Cuban term for a black of Haitian or West Indian descent. After more than thirty years in exile, continually under the threat of retribution from the Cuban regime, Moore steps forward to reveal the truth: Fidel’s Revolution was a success for white Marxists. But for Cuban blacks, the Revolution was basically business as usual, a cover-up of their ongoing struggle for racial, political, and social enfranchisement. Fidel Castro and his men rose from the ranks of the patriarchal, white Spanish-Cuban elite, and the Revolution did not weaken those ties.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Moore's Jamaican parents immigrated to Cuba "in search of a better life," but the author's own search took him from Cuba, "where black skin and African features were despised," to the United States, where "Negroes were rich and famous and powerful," and on to peripatetic global travels. He was present at historic moments around the world but oddly, takes a lackadaisical approach (in February 1960, four black students "initiated what was thereafter called a sit-in... in March, the massacre of unarmed black protestors... in South Africa brought the term apartheid into my vocabulary"). Moore's prose is uncommonly bland and wooden, though startling images surface occasionally; details of his teenaged sexual obsession with white women ("the ultimate conquest for me") and details of his bureaucratic encounters are overdrawn. Moore's passion to reveal that "Castro's limitations on the questions of race were glaring from the start" is buried under too much self-absorption. According to Moore, Alex Haley told him, "It's one hell of a story.... You must write a book." Perhaps in Haley's hands, Moore's story might have gained the clarity of focus and freshness of voice it lacks. (Nov.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
blackstarnews.com + tbwt.com
Documented with poignant vigor.
Refreshing . . . a personal context through which to interpret the ins and outs of [Cuba's] politics.
Caribbean Life & Caribbean Life (Brooklyn Edition)
A jarring, first-hand account.
A compelling autobiography.
Engaging autobiography . . . vivid descriptions . . . frankly depicted . . . uplifting.
Relevant and poignant.
Revealing the most pivotal moments of the 20th century with fervor and poignancy . . . a devestating yet redemptive account of one man's battles with racism, revolution and resistance, and his uplifting fight for justice, all of which raise consciousness.
A compelling autobiography . . . Particularly timely.
Kirkus Reviews
Cuban-born political activist Moore recalls his impoverished pre-Castro childhood and subsequent years of exile for speaking out against the country's entrenched racism. Born in the small sugar-mill town of Central Lugare-o in 1942, the author learned early about Cuba's brutal racist realities. In his multiethnic neighborhood, Criollos (native Cuban whites) were on top, followed by guajiros (poor white trash), then Negroes (native Cuban blacks) and Yuma (Jamaican, English-speaking blacks like his parents), with piti-piti (Haitians) at the bottom. Young Carlos was often called a pich-n, pejorative slang for the offspring of a buzzard that was later adopted by black Cubans as a term of empowerment. After his mother abandoned them, his father married an American who helped them emigrate to New York in 1958, just as President Batista's repressive regime was about to be toppled. Living in Bedford-Stuyvesant, 17-year-old Moore soon acquainted himself with bohemian ways and easy sex in Greenwich Village and communist politics in Harlem. Inspired by the civil-rights movement and the Black Muslims, he was one of 50 or so demonstrators who invaded the UN Security Council in 1961 to protest U.S. collusion in the assassination of his hero, deposed Congo President Patrice Lumumba. Initially indifferent to the revolution taking place in his homeland, Moore came to believe that Castro was ending racial discrimination in Cuba, and the Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961 prompted him to return to protect the new order. However, he soon observed that discrimination against blacks had not been eradicated, and he was jailed for his outspoken protests. For two decades he roamed the globe, embracing variousrevolutionary causes (hurriedly summarized here) until allowed in the late '90s to travel again to Cuba, where he was shocked and saddened by the harsh living conditions, deprivations and lack of real freedom. Forthright, intimate look at the human toll of Cuba's "beautiful dream," marred by rather wooden prose. Agent: Janell Walden Agyeman/Marie Brown Associates
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781556527678
  • Publisher: Chicago Review Press, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 11/1/2008
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 1,062,983
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Carlos Moore is an international writer and the author of books in several languages. Formerly a senior lecturer at the Institute of International Relations of the University of the West Indies, Trinidad and Tobago, and a visiting professor at Florida International University, Miami, he is an honorary research fellow in the UWI School for Graduate Studies and Research, Kingston, Jamaica. Moore resides in Brazil with his family, where he devotes his time to writing and research on race.

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