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Books – Cuba

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Voices from Prison: The Cuban Five

Editor Mary-Alice Waters
Pathfinder, 2014, p
Paperback – 84 pages

Voices from Prison: The Cuban Five contains interviews (including the partner of Ramón), articles, poems, paintings, photographs and speeches which provide insight into the lives of these great revolutionary fighters. There are also tributes by fellow inmates whose lives were transformed by friendship with one or another of the Five during their time together in prison.


“I will die the way I’ve lived”

by Antonio Guerrero, Editor Mary-Alice Waters Pathfinder, 2014
Paperback – 36 pages

“I will die the way I’ve lived” contains a series of 15 watercolours by Antonio Guerrero for 15 years of imprisonment, with some very informative accompanying text by Antonio, Gerardo and Ramón. “The United States, with more than 2.2 million men and women behind bars today, has the highest incarceration rate of any state in the world. That system of capitalist ‘justice’, organised to dehumanise and break both inmates and their families, is portrayed in these works,” Mary-Alice Waters says in her introduction to the paintings and the Cuban Five. It would make a great present.


Cuba & Angola: Fighting for Africa’s Freedom and Our Own

Editor Mary-Alice Waters
Pathfinder, 2014
Paperback – 144 pages

Between 1975 and 1991, some 425,000 Cubans volunteered for duty in Angola in response to requests from the Angolan government to help defend the newly independent country against multiple attacks by the US-backed South African regime. The Cubans played a critical role in securing Namibia’s independence and in seriously weakening the apartheid regime in South Africa and deepening the revolutionary struggle in South Africa.

“Those not willing to fight for the freedom of others will never be able to fight for their own”: Fidel Castro, July 1976. Cuba & Angola: Fighting for Africa’s Freedom and Our Own, contains contributions written between 1978 and 2013 by a variety of authors including Ernesto Che Guevara, Fidel Castro, Nelson Mandela, Gabriel García Márquz and interviews with four Cuban Generals. They cover Cuba and Africa, including the Missile Crisis and Operation Carlota. A very interesting read.


Women in Cuba: The making of a revolution within the revolution

Editor Mary-Alice Waters
Pathfinder, 2012
Paperback – 346 pages

Women in Cuba: The making of a revolution within the revolution is not a book about women per se, but about the Cuban Revolution with first hand accounts of two of its leaders – Vilma Espín and Asela de Los Santos. “What strikes the reader more than anything else in Espin’s account is the absence of dogma or schemas, the absence of clotted political jargon. There was only one guide: opening the way for the broadest layers of women to become involved – with organisation, effectiveness, and discipline – in ongoing struggles and the construction of a new social order,” Mary-Alice Waters notes in her introduction.

Yolanda Ferrer, a generation younger than the other women, as a 15-year-old took part in the national literacy campaign in 1961, was a founding member of the revolutionary militias, and is now General Secretary of the Federation of Cuban Women and a member of the Communist Party’s Central Committee.

Their stories give a rich history of the Revolution, in which men and women played leadership roles and fought courageously along side each other. There are some humorous moments too, such as when Castro explained to a meeting in 1960 fundamental aspects of the Revolution and women’s place in it. The integration of women into the workforce was a bit too much from some:

“My wife doesn’t need to work,” some said. “I’m supporting her.” Or “Who will do the cooking?”; “Who will do the cleaning?”; “Who will wash the clothes and care for the children?”.

“This was the battle for consciousness of men and women …,” Asela de Los Santos says. A really great read, in particular, for anyone interested in the Revolution, politics, building of socialism, including women’s equality.


Ernesto Che Guevara

by I Lavretsky
Progress Publishers, Moscow, 1973
Hardcover – 311 pages

Lavretsky tells the story of the young Argentinian medical student who became a great revolutionary fighter for the liberation of the Latin American peoples. The author draws on numerous documents, press items, and notes of personal conversations with friends, relatives and comrades-in-arms of Che.

There is a wealth of photos, including a number taken in Moscow and Leningrad. The book gives great insight into many of the problems faced by Cuba following the revolution when Che was Minister of Industry and in the leadership of the Communist Party. It deals with relations with the former Soviet Union and takes the reader through to Che’s murder in Bolivia in 1967 when leading a guerrilla unit fighting for the national liberation of Bolivia.



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