Skip to main content

tv   Ada Ferrer Cuba  CSPAN  February 26, 2022 11:00pm-12:01am EST

11:00 pm
the united states. now, it's my pleasure to welcome and to introduce to you. add a free. add up born in and raised in cuba born in cuba and raised in
11:01 pm
the united states historian. adafra. is the author of insurgent cuba race nation and revolution and freedom's mirror cuba and haiti in the age of revolution. in cuba and american history feray offers an epic sweeping history of cuba and its complex ties to the united states from before columbus's arrival to the present day. for more than half a century since severing diplomatic relations in 1961 the standoff between cuba and the us has sparked contentious debate and outlasted 10 american presidents. the passing of fidel castro in 2016 and the recent retirement of his brother and successor raul castro in 2021. the book traces the evolution of the island nation its conquest and colonization slavery and freedom. and independence and revolutions made and on made along the way foray explores the sometimes
11:02 pm
surprising. often troubled intimacy between the two countries documenting not only the influence of the us on cuba but also the many ways the island has been in a recurring presence in us affairs. booklets noted that in her work parade is parade delves into deep background that studies the contemporary history. that may never have before been encountered and with that i welcome miss anna faray. to turn on the screen just do it. hi everyone. thanks for coming out today. good to see you all. it's a pleasure to be here presenting this book on cuba in miami and not only in miami, but at the miami book fair, i'm very happy to be here. so i'm gonna talk today about the book and let you know a little bit about the process and what some of my ideas were and
11:03 pm
then we'll we'll stop for question and answers. i'm moderating myself some i'll try to keep keep myself to time. so i want to just begin by telling you that the book cuba and american history is simply put a history of cuba. it's a history of cuba from before the arrival of christopher columbus to the present. but the book is not a textbook. it's not a textbook built around high political history or abstract structural analysis. it's not an academic monograph for specialists. and it is well, despite the fact that i am in the book and that i draw on my own personal experiences in my personal relationship with the island of cuba. the book is not emphatically a memoir. it is instead a character-driven. episode driven narrative history of cuba that i tried to narrate for this moment a moment that i
11:04 pm
think in which history itself is up for grabs. the passing of fidel castro from this world and overall castro from power raised urgent questions about the island's political future and they invite new analysis historical analysis about the meanings and the legacies of the cuban revolution. in the us barack obama's opening to cuba followed by trump's closing and then by biden's so far strange in action have made the nature of the historic relationship between the two countries once more a subject of debate. and of course in cuba itself the protests of november. realize i'm forgetting the slides. yes, now i just realized that was meant to be for columbus. sorry. and a cuba the protests of july 11th, the what ended up being the non-protest of november 15th. also demand a kind of reckoning
11:05 pm
with history. so i want to talk today about how i wrote the book. precisely for this kind of reckoning with history. so let me begin by talking a little bit about who i see as the book's audience. so obviously the book is written in english. it's published in the us. so the primary audience for the book is americans whose knowledge of the island might be sketchy or whose knowledge might be overdetermined by myth and caricature. so i wanted to write cuba in a way to challenge americans to see the island beyond those myths i wanted them to. i wanted them to. realize that the history of cuba long proceeds fidel castro, obviously and that the question of the relationship between the two countries is much longer and more complex and richer than many imagine. at the same time.
11:06 pm
i wanted the book to function as a kind of selective. necessarily incomplete history of the united states reimagined from cuban ground and cuban waters sometimes i refer to the project as a kind of shadow history of the us. in the first instance it prompts. in the first instance, it prompts american readers to think anew about cuba in the second and in rights it invites readers to think a new and maybe also slightly askew about the relationship or about the us. ultimately, then i think of the book as a history of cuba that gives americans a view of their own country through the eyes of another how do i do this? part of the answer is that the book itself goes back and forth a lot between the two places some chapters begin in cuba others begin in the us and almost every chapter includes
11:07 pm
both. the purpose of this back and forth is not to compare but to tell interconnected overlapping stories. and to allow readers to glimpse how different history can seem depending on where they're standing. often i play with readers perspectives and expectations right at the beginning of each chapter. my point however is not just a surprise the reader for surprises sake. rather i try to draw their attention to things that don't fit easy categories to things kind of at the edge of the frame. the chapter openings thus encompass things that are both. familiar and unfamiliar in order to create for the reader a space of welcome, but also perhaps of slight discomfort. so i want to talk about some of those chapter intros and how i do them to give you a sense of what of what the writing and the
11:08 pm
tone and mood of the book is so i'll begin with what i did with chapter one which is which includes the arrival of columbus in the new world. and that's a history that of course is very very familiar to american readers. it's a staple of social studies education from early elementary school. it begins many general histories of the united states going back to history's written in the early 19th century to the very recent book by jill lepore published a couple of years ago called these truths all of them begin with the arrival of columbus. so while i begin this chapter with the with the arrival with this familiar story, i preface it with a very simple observation. and that is that columbus? never set foot. in anything that would become the united states.
11:09 pm
and that simple observation raises a question. why is it that a history that did not occur in the united states or in the territories? that would become the united states. why is it that that history has come to serve as the obligatory starting point of us history? in fact what i go on to narrating the book, is that that conception of us history originating in 1492 actually emerged in the 19th century precisely at the moment when americans statesman began to imagine a young united states expanding into cuba and the caribbean early us historians basically seized and essentially foreign history and made it theirs. many of them fully expecting that the lands on which that history had unfolded would soon be theirs, too. today americans know more or less the old history of columbus unaware of the later history of
11:10 pm
us empire that led it to be narrated as their own. the chapter opening thus begins with something very familiar but in a way that calls unexpected attention to americans own understanding americans understanding of their own history, right? so that's what i try to do. just kind of use this perspective that that prompts readers to shift focus to question what they think they they know to see it in a different light. okay, and so i think of all the moments in the book of all the histories narrated in the book the history of the cuban revolution of 1959 may be the part that readers think that their most familiar with so i felt the burden particularly keenly in that in the last third of the book to shift their default perspectives to disrupt their expectations in productive ways. this was especially it was true for the whole section on the
11:11 pm
revolution, but it was especially true. i thought for those parts of the revolution that american readers have some knowledge of and here i'm thinking of important era defining events like the cuban missile crisis or the bay of pigs, so i want to talk a little bit about those those chapters here beginning with the with the missile crisis. so i talk about that. the book is 33 chapters. i talk about the missile crisis in chapter 28 now in the us the most common historical accounts of that history begin in mid-october 1962 with us reconnaissance planes flying over western cuba and discovering the missiles. or they begin with kennedy or other administration officials first getting word that they were confirmed soviet ballistic missiles in cuba. cuban accounts of the crisis which are much less numerous than american ones by the way begin with the cuban soviet
11:12 pm
secret agreement to install missiles and other equipment in cuba. my missile crisis chapter begins very differently. so i begin instead in a small town called santa cruz de los pinos. it's actually less than two miles from where my mother grew up. in 1962 people there still got around mostly on horseback or horse-drawn carriage or occasional station wagon station wagons that picked up writers for a modest fair, but in september of 1962. the town suddenly began having traffic jams in the middle of the night. massive trucks shook the ground and got stuck trying to make it around tight corners that were not wide enough for the truck beds. to make room for their wide turns of the trucks one corner building was demolished partially demolished on the spot the buildings the columns on another building that also prevented the trucks from
11:13 pm
turning were all so we're all so demolished. meanwhile you had cuban soldiers on the street who were motioning to residents of the town to step back from their windows and doors. it was a small town and it had very typical cuban windows the louvre the wooden louvers that people could open and peer through so local people were trying to open the windows and look out and figure out what was happening and and they so they they, you know, they didn't pay attention when they when the police said step back they were trying to figure it out and what they saw was these long covered beds, you know the backs of the trucks and they were covered with tarps and they said under the tarps. they could make out shapes resembled large palm trees. the world of course soon learned that the those things that looked like palm trees were actually soviet are 12 missiles with a range of 1200 miles easily able to strike the us seaboard each capable of
11:14 pm
carrying a nuclear warhead 70 times more powerful than than the bombs that the us detonated over hiroshima. later in the chapter. of course. i narrate the traditional 13-day crisis. that is so typical and familiar, but i do so having established a frame that also includes cuban men and women and children living near the bases striking friendships with soviet with the soviet soldiers and looking at their windows trying to figure out what you know, what in the world was going on. by the end of that chapter with with nuclear war averted as we all know, i briefly discussed the impact of this well known episode for the us and the soviet union. but for cuba itself having survived the impact was not particularly great. i explained why in the chapter and then i end the chapter with
11:15 pm
oops, i'm sorry, that should have done that before with pigs. because as soon as the soviets left the cubans local cubans went into the bases and did what cubans did do so, well, they recycled and so they looked for useful material that they could use and they took these things called marston mats and repurposed them to serve as material for their animal pens in their in their small farms. so, yeah, so that so that's the missile crisis chapter again, you know really trying to focus and make cubans themselves not not fidel castro and people like that but everyday cubans part of the story. and then speaking of pigs. i want to discuss a little bit the chapter on the bay of pigs and i actually want to read from the opening of that one. and of course that's also a familiar story and which often begins with the landing of the us orchestrated invasion as we all know of anti-castro cuban
11:16 pm
exiles, so i begin that chapter. in the swamp as well, but i begin it differently and so here i'm going to read a little bit from the opening of that book. i mean of that of that chapter. geography had given the place a remarkable resistance to change. located about 85 miles and worlds away from havana the vast zapata peninsula houses species as old as the brontosaurus and the pterodactyls. reads rise up from a vast expansive thick water underneath which lies a dense tangled forest of hardwood. timber many thousands of years old. in the rivers and lakes of the peninsula still swims the cuban gar. a species so old and unchanged that scientists category categorize it as a living fossil. a rare species of cuban nightingale sings the same melody its predecessor saying eons ago.
11:17 pm
much of the swamp extends into the caribbean sea but in a few places it gives way to a strip of solid sandy ground. a long parts of the coast is a large shelf of dog's teeth rock. so named for the hard jagged limestone that made the area inhospitable even after humans had begun to put shoes on draft animals. near the eastern end of the vast wetlands is an inlet like the swamp this bay boasts ancient species among them the reef dweller that probably gave the bay its name. the queen triggerfish known in cuba as cochinos or pigs. humans arrived much later to give and gave names to those places and those species generations of taino indians made their homes in the unusual terrain burying their dead always to the west. under mounds that alternated black earth and snail shells. in 1493 columbus hugged the coast of the swamp on his second
11:18 pm
voyage. a century later pirates were said to hide their treasure there. and two centuries after that slave traders would use the unwelcoming coast to land illegal cargoes of africans. forced after their long grueling voyage across the atlantic to trek over the dog teeth limestone in bare feet. but these illicit uses aside the place was so inhospitable so cut off from the rest of the island that it was settled but sparsely whether by native dianos or spaniards or africans or the descendants of any or all of these the swamp was hardly arable and there were no towns to speak of so the people who did settle there worked hard to make a living. they harvested the swamp using rudimentary tools and the weight of their own bodies to loosen the thick gnarled roots from under a foot or more of thick water. the excavated small patches of earth built fires in them and
11:19 pm
burned the wood to make charcoal. that was their occupation. there was one route in and out of the swamp a narrow gauge railroad track often covered with water and unusable. it left the people who lived in the swamp cut off from the rest of the island for weeks at a time. it was here in this swamp. you probably think i'm going to talk about the invasion now, right? it was here and this swamp that well. no, it was here in this swamp. that fidel castro arrived by helicopter on december 24th 1959 to celebrate his first christmas in power. sorry. he arrived with soda beer and a pig and a half and invited himself and his 13 companions to christmas eve dinner to noche buena at the home of a resident charcoal worker. i remember recalled the man later the fidel said to me
11:20 pm
you're all going to see how buses from havana are going to come here. and quote i thought he was nuts said the man yet by the following christmas a newly built highway into the swamp was facilitating the transformation of the whole area. there was a new and fully staffed general hospital and aqueduct an electric plant and a telegraph a new shopping center had clothing and craft stores a pharmacy of butcher a barber shop and a post office. 30 literacy workers were in the immediate area and more were expected to arrive soon. the charcoal workers having received title to the land. they worked under the 1959 agrarian reform law no longer paid in rent. and the beautiful beach called hiron surrounded by the poorest most unusual countryside in the island. sorry, and on the beautiful beach called hiron surrounded by the countryside the new government was building a seaside resort 153 fully furnished one and two bedroom cabins in a complex that boasted
11:21 pm
a swimming pool cabaret cafeteria game room and more. construction on the result on the resort started just a few weeks after fidel castro showed up for christmas eve dinner. and the opening date was set for may 20th, 1961 the 99th anniversary of cuban independence and the end of the first us military occupation. almost exactly one month before the scheduled opening of the resort some 1400 men all but two of them cuban waited offshore from the from that coast completely unaware of all this activity. they were there on orders of the us to invade cuba. they planned to link up with internal resistance movements spark and anticastro rebellion and secure a beachhead. three days in a new provisional government for cuba would arrive from miami and once that happened the 1400 men would proceed north from the beachhead turn left and march on havana.
11:22 pm
some expected that things would go so well that the fidel's government by fall might fall even before their arrival in the capital. if things went more slowly or if the men ran into trouble they would fade into the mountains link up with insurgents there and wage the kind of guerrilla war against the cuban government the fidel castro himself had done a few years earlier. the first to realize that things would not go as planned might have been the men of the underwater demolition team motoring a small launch towards the beach toward the beach that first night. their job was to split up lights visible only from the water which would guide the large vessels and their landing gear onto the shore to disembark the 1400 men and their materials. but as the frogman approached on their rubber raft. they understood their job would not be so simple. they looked up and saw that the place was lit up like coney island. and one of the one of them
11:23 pm
remembered later and 50 yards from where they had been ripped from where they had intended to land. people were having a party around a small structure. he said floodlights on the corners of that little store were lighting up our landing spot like daylight. and so that's how i begin the the bay of big chat but bay of pigs chapter i go on to narrate and explain the failure of the us invasion. which of course is known as the bay of pigs? but by beginning in the swamp itself by by detaining myself over cuban geography and cuban history with actual residents of the area and by alluding to their experience in the first two years of the revolution. i remind the reader that any discussion of the failure has to encompass all that. no landing, no invasion occurs on a blank slate or more literally on an empty beach even
11:24 pm
if the beach had been empty in that party hadn't been going on. there's there's a deeper history and a more recent history that affected the outcome of the invasion and and that and and it had to be that way. there was no way for it to have been otherwise history itself is always sedimented you can't will it away and that's that's i hope what the what the that introduction. conveys to readers. so if it's true that american military planners could not will away history. it is also true that no cuban could will away history either so i want to shift gears in the in the in these final moments of the of the talk and address the question of how i see the book addressing not just american readers, but also cuban and cuban american readers. how does this book speak to them or to us?
11:25 pm
and so i want to say a little bit about that first. i think that i wanted to provide. a new kind of synthesis it is this history. it's a history of cuba as i said that's over more than five that tells the history of over more than five centuries. so it is you know, what what? you know what book promoters and others on what i myself will refer to as sorry. it is also what what i myself were refer to as an epic sweeping history were larger than life figures like, you know, columbus and and castro maseo many and many many others appear alongside people whose names. we don't we don't we don't know and probably won't ever know.
11:26 pm
i want to so i wanted to write a synthesis in which there was room for people like this. but also if i also room for nameless people whose lives are buffeted always by big age history. so these might be people like the enslaved men and women who? who worked the sugar cane some of them there's this is a picture of a plantation owned a cuban plantation owned by an american senator james dewolf. so i want the the enslaved people on this plantation also to appear in in my in my book. they would i found out from letters of the family that enslaved people in the in the in their quarters at night. had no light. obviously there was no electricity. they had no candles and they would use the light of glow worms. as candles so, you know those luminescent. glowworms serve them as candles.
11:27 pm
so they're in my book and the fact that they did that is in my book and they are. day two are the subjects of human history, so i wanted. i wanted that to write a book where there was a room for them and where there's room for say people launching a raft. from the malecon in 1994 the decision to leave the decision to take that kind of risk is also an essential part of cuban history over the last 60 years. so the book has to have room for people like like them as well. so i wanted to write a synthesis where i would place them in the narratives in the narrative to make sure that readers knew that this is their history too. it is a narrative. i hope in which ordinary people might recognize themselves and recognize each other. it is what i try to think of as epic history on a human scale.
11:28 pm
so that's the kind of synthesis that i wanted to provide for for cubans and cuban americans in particular. and i think that that using that scale does something else to i think i hope that it helps resist the urge to read history or tell history from the perspective of hindsight. some of that is inevitable, right? we all know what happened after what we're writing or reading about we know what happened after this event that i'm describing or analyzing but in the telling i try to construct a contingent account to narrate it as much as possible in a way that forestalls the outcome in a way that comes closer to capturing the experience of people living through through that history day to day. and i think this was especially important for the parts of the of the book that deal with the post 1952 and especially the
11:29 pm
post 1959 period one of the things that i do when writing about the revolution, you know in the spain of not kind of reading history backwards one of the things i do is to when writing about the revolution is to never use the phrase never use the phrase triumph of the revolution. this is the standard way the revolution spoke about itself. it is a standard phrase in cuban scholarship and cuban journalism in everyday life even in exile. you see it a times among writers currently living outside of cuba who were formed in cuba. but i reject the phrase we get to say because to say that the revolution triumph in 1959 assumes that the revolution was already fully formed. that it was already a singular entity already defined and it ignores all the deep-seated conflicts that unfolded after batista left. it ignores all the conflicts to
11:30 pm
give it meaning and to define its character. what the revolution became after 1959 was, you know was not clear at that point right? and it was not the same thing that it wasn't 59 so throughout i try to restore that sense of uncertainty to destruct i try to disrupt all the frames that use things like 62 years of x i reject that because i believe you know, and we hear that all the time so, you know the government in havana might speak about 62 years of revolution opposition figures might speak about 62 years of dictatorship. i think both perspectives are a historical they ignore the fact that time never stands still that cuba in 1959 is not the same thing as cuba in 1976. not the same thing as cuba in 1980 or 1994 and certainly not the same thing as cuba in 2021.
11:31 pm
so in the end i think by writing this history. as history, that's ultimately what i'm trying to do to write the history of cuba as history. not as diatribe not as ideology and so it to by writing this history as human contingent sometimes surprising. sometimes heartbreaking. i think that what i'm really doing in the only way that i know how to do it is to imagine building a future. built on a foundation of peace and mutual recognition so if the book invites american readers to see their own history the history of the us from the eyes of another i feel like my book is trying to urge cuban readers to see their own past through the eyes of each other. that's what i'm trying to do. so speaking of each other. just showing some i meant to
11:32 pm
show these as i was doing the last paragraph, but these are just these are some of the photos that appear, you know, the book has lots and lots of images and these are some of the i wanted to use them for this idea of thinking of seeing cuban history through the eyes of of each other. and i think i ended a little early. so there's time for questions for comments for anything you want to talk about. things you don't want to talk about. yeah, but i've read this book and it's absolutely loved it. and unless the microphone. i read your book, and i absolutely loved it. thank you. i'm cuban american and i've always been interested in my cultural background. and i always had missing pieces
11:33 pm
of that knowledge and your book filled. excuse me filled it in so that's fantastic. the character development was just superb. i really enjoyed being introduced to people like carlota lucumi who was a rebel a leader of a slave of rebellion who died in battles one of several women the the american gentleman the politician whose name. i don't remember who was actually inaugurated as vice president of the united states in cuba. how's our is that that was great, so i wanted to congratulate that number one and number two. i'm wanted i will read my next book is the book on the history of of haiti and cuba there that relationship and my question to you is well, what your next book? i have a few ideas.
11:34 pm
i'm trying i'm also trying you know. so i've been working on the history of cuba for for over 30 years, right? i began as a master student in the late 80s. i went to cuba for the first time in 1990 and i've been going back ever since like one one, you know, depending once a year except for when my daughters were born that kind of thing to do research. so i've been doing this for a long time and for the for over 30 years. i've always been working on something and when i finish a book there's a part of me that panics because i don't know what i'm working on next so actually in the idea to write this book came from that kind of panic, so i finished the cuba in haiti book and i was like, what do i what do i work on next and i went to this archives in cuba and i went to the archives in spain looking for material and i would say oh, this is really interesting if i was working on next, but i don't know if i want to work on x, right so i basically wrote this book for two reasons one obama. it was during the obama opening and i thought americans needed to know that cuba existed before fidel castro and they need to know more about cuba but also because i couldn't decide what to work on.
11:35 pm
i know i wanted to go back to cuba rather than continue the cuba haiti work, but i couldn't decide what to do. so i said, okay, i will do all of cuban history and then that will help me decide what i want to work on next and of course though. i did all of cuban history and it hasn't helped me decide because because you know, i'm really fascinated by the 19th century, so i might go back to that middle period of the 19th century and some work on the slave trade. i've done a lot of work on a man named jose antonio ponte older cubans here might remember a phrase marshmallow que ponte. well, i might do a book on on aponte. he was a free black carpenter who was the leader of an anti-slavery conspiracy, but he was also in most cubans don't realize this he was also an artist and he did a beautiful book of paintings that retold the history of the world in a way that centered black figures and it drew on european history biblical history all kinds of things so i might i might work
11:36 pm
on aponte and his missing book for those of you who don't know we actually did. exhibit about about a bontes missing book of paintings and one of the artists is here emilio alan martinez, so a sculptor and it was time i could do i might go do that? i also think you know the book also includes some personal stories in it and my own some stuff about my own family's relationship to cuba and the revolution i have also an idea of writing a book that might be that might combine history and memoir more centrally that would maybe focus each chapter on a member of my family and use that as a way to tell different parts of of cuban of cuban history. so those are those are the two. those are the two ideas that are currently at the top of the list, but mostly i'm trying to relax a little bit with the idea that i don't know what i'm working on right now. yes. i'm excuse me. hi, my name is orlando that was
11:37 pm
watching by the way. thank you for for coming and and giving us such a clear expose of our country. i was born in cuba left quranos 12 years old. and i left in the middle of the night five o'clock in the morning. we were attached to the previous government of the batista government. my uncle was a chief of the fbi there. so dinner party was on new year's eve party 1958 when he came to my grandmother's house and told everybody that. the president was leaving at 4 o'clock in the morning. so we had to leave. and we couldn't leave before we had to wait until five or six and i thought i would never go back because my mother and my father made sure that we understood that we lost everything. yeah, and she just didn't want didn't want anybody in the family to go back. she lost her youngest son in bay of pigs and when i was looking at the cochinos.
11:38 pm
i almost watched my uncle's airplane in the bottom of that ocean. so it was kind of a difficult thing to watch we went back to cuba my wife and i 57 years later after i left. i'm 75, even though i looked 45, but i was gonna say you look what she young to have been for you, but i do i didn't want because we talked you supposed you spoke about a revolution. i wanted to to cite if i make the best. quote i never heard about what a revolution is this mountain quote says a revolution is not a dinner party. or writing an essay or painting a picture or doing embroidery. it cannot be so refined so leisurely. and gentle so temperate kind and curtious restrained and magnanimous. a revolution is an insurrection an act of violence by which one
11:39 pm
class throws the other. and i just want to thank you for allowing me to come up here and ask you when did you think the cuban people realized that this guy was there to stay? and how long do you think they thought that at this point that this period mark astral period how long do you think the average cube? because we were out for 57 years then we went back for two weeks and then we left again. yeah, so yeah, i mean, i think actually, you know, i teach regularly on cuban history and i have this exercise at the very end of the class where i tell my students you're just you're gonna teach, you know, you're historian of cuba. you're going to teach a course on the history of cuba. you're going to write a history of cuba your title is the cuban revolution comma and then give me the beginning date and the end date. right because you that's historians always do that. like my first book was 1868 to 1878. so they always do that. and so i had the exercise was to
11:40 pm
think one. did it begin? when did it end and i get all different kinds of answers, right? but what i would say is you know. you know what? it's hard to talk about an average cuban because it's an average cuban with what relationship to the former government with what relationship to the new government right with what relationship to the us was. what ideas, you know, the it's it's hard a historian who loves detail and and and you know, sometimes it's uncomfortable with generalization to speak for the average cuban, but what i say is that there were for some people it was really early. so. for people who fought in the revolution who fought against batista and wanted assumed that there would be elections and all that. they started they their discomfort was became evident pretty quickly. and so you started seeing
11:41 pm
defections in 59 and certainly in 1960. so it was clear by 1960 that for some people it was it was too anti-democratic and they broke with it for many people. so i'm thinking you know i love to talking to people and i love asking questions. and my mother was one of 12 only two of them came 10 of them stayed so when i went back to cuba, i was very close to my aunt the anemia who's also called allah, and i would i would love talking to her. and so remember she told me that she she had all these she was a supporter. my mother initially was too my father wasn't he had been a member of the army. he was against it whatever but my aunt said, you know, i was having a lot of doubts as as the revolution radicalized and you know in 1961 then she said then the bay of pigs happened. and i forgot about my doubts that sent her back into the into the revolutionary fold, but i think probably for there were certain key moments when people saw maria, i think that was a
11:42 pm
key moment the 1990s were an absolutely critical moment for so many people and you know, i spend a lot of time there in the 1990s. so as a visitor not certainly as someone who lived there i had to deal with the special period with figuring out ways to get food even though i had access to ibiza, but with you know people who were i was going to say young people but know what i meant with people my age. they would tell me stories about kind of about growing up. some of them went to la landing, you know, the boarding school that was named after vladimir lennon, but for many of them the 1990s were critical because they had expected some kind of reform to happen much in the style of gorbachev and the soviet union and some of them became disillusion when it became clear that that wasn't going to happen in cuba. so i think the 90 and then the christ the economic crisis of the 90s was it was really devastating and some of them
11:43 pm
came to realize or came to see that the that the government was preaching one thing and doing another and that became really evident in the 1990s in a way that many had not seen before i think for people today seeing the level of of government repression against protesters. that's been that's also kind of awoken a lot of a lot more anti-government. so it's a sentiment so i basically think it's i'll give you a very typical historian answer. there's not one answer. yeah, thank you. i agree with you with your comment that the revolution that i was not triumph of the revolution. but actually a failure. failure of the revolution. that's the way they should look at it because it's fatal human people so badly. and i've always thought you know, you don't leave paradise on a raft and and float 90 miles full of sharks if you're actually living in paradise.
11:44 pm
you know that one of the reasons that i ended with that thing about cubans to see each other cubans to see i mean, i really adhere the last is you see the you know, these last slides were just from a few days ago right you have, you know, garcia regulator looking out the window the day that he was supposed to do the protest and couldn't you have you have cuban police mobilized in the other photograph? when i see that that photograph when i see those photographs, i want to understand what they're what both what all of them are thinking and what and i want to so that's that's kind of i feel like if we're ever going to get to a place. that is just and that has you know true justice and peace that we we can't skip doing this we have to really try to see the world and see the past through each other's eyes. so i would just say that again, but i think there's a person behind you who's been waiting for a while. thanks.
11:45 pm
thank you professor foret. my name is rosemary ravenel. i was born in cuba and raced in the united states. i've been enjoying your book tremendously. sted many months ago and iw a had to buy the book. oh, sorry. i've learned so much that i had no idea about my own history. the question i want to ask has to do with quinceaña, november 15th and the democracy movement. from what i've read so far. we really don't have a tradition. we we as a people in cuba never really experienced democracy. right there were these short spirits of elections followed by batista and followed by castro. so we don't have a president. so my question is where do we start as a people understanding what it takes to be a democracy? yeah, you know one tradition that cuba did have before the the revolution of 59 was a really strong tradition of civic protest and civic engagement. i want to go back to sorry.
11:46 pm
sorry. is it not? why does it not go back to the? well, i can't find it. it's the one with all the flags. this one yeah. i love that photograph. it comes from the private collection of ramiro fernandez. who's has an amazing collection of about i don't know hundreds of thousands of cuban photographs. this is a rally in 1940 if you if you go back beginning in the 1920s you do have a tradition of protests of strikes of civic organizations that launch postcard campaigns and petitions and that was really powerful and this actually it was a central part of the story of against against batista, right all that civic activism and protests. i feel like what we've seen
11:47 pm
lately is cubans in there and that but that hasn't existence since 1959 because in some sense what the government did is take all that protest. that knowledge and the tradition of protests and it used it for itself. so it kept having the you know, the rallies against this and the rallies against that but they were they were government sponsored especially in the presence. so so i think that tradition of independent civic protest has been lost but one thing that i see in the protesters is kind of this this attempt to recuperate that so if you looked at the protest on july 11, there's a if you don't know what there's this wonderful website called inventario, it's inventario without the second e without the e they have an interactive map that shows where you could point. there's dots for every protest that happened on july 11th, and you can click on it and see videos or photographs from those particular protests and you watch the protesters and it's
11:48 pm
like they're learning to protest by doing and they are drawing on these traditions that you know, like like the people taking out the viten de la carida from a church to march with them people caring flags like this people kneeling to show that they're peaceful. all those things were part of a cuban, you know of this repertoire of cuban protest ritual so i do feel like they like that that kind of gives you hope right that that's that is the kind of you know of a that's something that's there that people are drawing on even though it's not necessarily formal elections, or what have you so that that gives me hope hi, i'm curious about anything that surprised you in this research after having research cuban history for so many years or maybe contradicted something you'd learned in the past or
11:49 pm
that kind of thing. yeah. there was so much, you know, as i said, i've been working on this stuff for over 30 years, but i learned so much, you know doing the research and and writing and writing the book there were many many things along the way i would say the biggest surprise was one that somebody already alluded to the fact that this american vice president william rufus king. took his oath of office as us vice president in 1853 on a cuban sugar plantation. remember like reading that and thinking, you know, you just do a double take how could that be? vice president of cuba and he swears in i mean vice president of the us and he swears he's sworn in cuba. but yes, that was that was one of the the most important ones and but also and i ended up starting a chapter with it chapter 9 and part of the reason wasn't just that it's a great story, but that it kind of was it stood in for so much because he ran on a on that was part of
11:50 pm
which is program was acquiring cuba for the us so they had run on a cuba and you know cuba and franklin pierce. so in some sense him taking the oath of office in cuba is a little bit like he's marking cuba as american territory. the other thing, is that the vice president was also a slaveholder and in a plantation owner in in the us south and so he goes to an american owned sugar plantation in cuba because a lot of the plantations were american owned in that region. and so again, it speaks to these connections between the two systems slavery in the us slavery in cuba american involvement in the slave trade in cuban sugar and so on so, i think that might have been the other one another one was actually the bay of pigs that i read from. i mean, i was just so shocked at how how incredibly how absurd the planning for it was i mean there were such if you read the documents like they were they were warned about what would happen. they knew they knew the chances
11:51 pm
of success were minimal and they did it anyway, so some of that some of that shocked me as well. great well with that i'd like to thank you again, dr. foray for being with us. thank you. thank you all.
11:52 pm
11:53 pm
11:54 pm
11:55 pm
11:56 pm
11:57 pm
11:58 pm
11:59 pm
12:00 am
as we just witnessed the one-year anniversary of the insurrection at the us capitol right here in dc near blocks from where i am sitting and talking to you right now. this book could not be more. timely mark bowden and matthew teague are seasoned writers and journalists who have joined forces on the steel a week by week state by state account of the effort to overturn the 2020 presidential election. working with the team of researchers and reporters the authors uncovered ner


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on