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Before Fidel

The Cuba I Remember

By Francisco José Moreno

Publication Year: 2007

Before Fidel Castro seized power, Cuba was an ebullient and chaotic society in a permanent state of turmoil, combining a raucous tropical nature with the evils of arbitrary and corrupt government. Yet this fascinating period in Cuban history has been largely forgotten or misrepresented, even though it set the stage for Castro’s dramatic takeover in 1959. To reclaim the Cuba that he knew—and add color and detail to the historical record—distinguished political scientist Francisco José Moreno here offers his recollections of the Cuba in which he came of age personally and politically. Moreno takes us into the little-known world of privileged, upper-middle-class, white Cubans of the 1930s through the 1950s. His vivid depictions of life in the family and on the streets capture the distinctive rhythms of Cuban society and the dynamics between parents and children, men and women, and people of different races and classes. The heart of the book describes Moreno’s political awakening, which culminated during his student years at the University of Havana. Moreno gives a detailed, insider’s account of the anti-Batista movement, including the Ortodoxos and the Triple A. He recaptures the idealism and naiveté of the movement, as well as its ultimate ineffectiveness as it fell before the juggernaut of the Castro Revolution. His own disillusionment and wrenching decision to leave Cuba rather than accept a commission in Castro’s army poignantly closes the book.

Published by: University of Texas Press


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pp. ix


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pp. xi

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pp. xiii-xiv

The plane was about to take off—a Super-Constellation on its daily run from Havana to New York. The four propellers whirling at half throttle, the doors closed, the stewardesses making sure the passengers were not walking up and down the aisle on takeoff, as Cubans were prone to do if left unattended, and shepherding them towards their assigned...


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pp. 1

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pp. 3-15

I was born twice. Same country—two worlds. The first time I was delivered into a feudal family in a time that no longer was; the second, I was hurled into a revolution in a time that was never to be. I was brought into the first world in 1934 by a white doctor, into the second in 1952 by a black soldier. Eighteen years separated the two births, but in the tropics...

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pp. 16-31

Calling me thin as a rail would have been an understatement. I looked more like a toothpick with an olive on top, and being underweight was my most salient trait as a child, at least in my family’s eyes. I liked food, some of it anyhow, but I didn’t eat much, to the consternation of a group of people for whom eating well, and by “well” they meant both...

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pp. 32-49

By 1940 Cuba was a democracy—sort of. The Platt Amendment was long gone, a new constitution had been adopted and Batista was elected president by popular suffrage—but with the army counting the votes. For most of the next four years the contours of Cuban political life were molded by the reality and impact of World War II. Glenn Miller and...

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pp. 50-64

The presidency of Carlos Pr

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pp. 65-87

On Sunday evenings Eduardo Chib


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pp. 89

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pp. 91-104

The first time you are born you are not conscious that you are being born, and awareness arrives gradually, in stages, giving your senses time to adjust and time for things to fall into place. The second time your awareness is instantaneous and overwhelming, and all your senses and nerves and systems of perception and manners of discerning burst out at...

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pp. 105-114

Aureliano! The most wanted man in Cuba, his picture on the front page of the newspapers and his powerful-sounding name, with almost as many syllables as letters, flying the flag of revolution and symbolizing the promise of retribution—the talk of the town. Where was he? What was he up to? When would he march on the government? He seemed to...

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pp. 115-123

My fellow employees at the bank were rapidly becoming a nuisance. They expected me to solve their petty individual problems: change vacation time, secure a transfer to a more convenient location, argue for a raise or promotion—all problems I had no interest in, and which Iwould delegate to my second in command, Feliciano. Feliciano, “the happy...

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pp. 124-144

As months went by, Batista’s grip tightened, and the dark and tired political landscape gave way to new vibrant colors, fueled by youthful enthusiasm, idealism and candor. At the University a new set of student leaders was beginning to push aside the corrupt clique that had previously controlled the student federation. Union politics took a...

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pp. 145-160

I had run into Kiko, completely by chance, the previous Saturday afternoon on my way to the University to pay the tuition for the year, forty-five dollars. He asked me what I was doing and when I told him he suggested I put the money to better use—to a good meal. There would always be time for paying the tuition and, in the overall scheme of...

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pp. 161-182

Their guns were drawn, pointing at us, and there were four or five or maybe six of them, it was hard to tell, and as their guns came out, they yelled at us to get up and keep our hands where they could be seen, and to stand against the wall. Everyone else in the restaurant sat frozen in their seats, their faces betraying the same confusion and fear I felt, and...

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pp. 183-196

There was no way I could defeat Juan Nuiry for the presidency of the Social Sciences student body, since he had the election sewn up. Not that it was going to be rigged, just that he held all the cards. He had been around for a while as a full-time student and as a candidate whereas I was a newcomer in both respects; he was already vice president, I had...

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pp. 197-198

The Cuban political situation continued to deteriorate. Cities became battlegrounds between the government’s repressive forces and urban guerrillas that surged in all forms and shapes. By December 1956 Fidel Castro was back in Cuba, in the Sierra Maestra. In March of the following year, in a move to counterbalance Fidel’s increasing political...

E-ISBN-13: 9780292795402
E-ISBN-10: 0292795408
Print-ISBN-13: 9780292714243
Print-ISBN-10: 0292714246

Page Count: 214
Publication Year: 2007