Havana 1960. Lino Fernandez, a young Cuban doctor, and his wife Emy decide to fight Castro rather than flee into exile. They work together in the underground, traveling across Cuba to muster support for the guerilla movement. Then Lino continues alone as Emy waits for the birth of their third child. Now a major leader in the resistance group MRR (movement to Recuperate the Revolution), is able to see Emy only sporadically, sneaking back to Havana for a few hours for the birth of their daughter Lucia. Lino makes a number of trips into the Escambray Mountains where guerilla troops are training. He finally arranges a long-awaited arms drop by the CIA, but is captured by the militia and taken to Cuban Security Police (G-2) headquarters. It is February 1961. He is 26 years old. Both Emy and Lino believe he will be executed, but hope for a prison sentence instead. Whatever happens to Lino, Emy believes that their children, one month, one year, and two years old, cannot grow up in Cuba, indoctrinated in Communism and treated as pariahs, the children of a traitor. At the age of 22, she makes the agonizing decision to send her children away to Miami with her parents and stay in Cuba to help Lino survive in prison. If nothing else, she will be with him if he is executed.Lino is placed in several prisons until, after a hunger strike he organized, he is sent to the maximum security Ile of Pines prison on an island off the south coast of Cuba. Already known as a troublemaker, he is placed in solitary in a cage-cell, naked, humiliated, on starvation rations, and exposed to searing sun and hurricanes. He manages to keep his sanity by communicating with other prisoners through the wire ceilings of their cells. During this time he learns from a telegram that his children are safe in Miami and Emy has stayed in Cuba.After 100 days, he is put into a cell block with 1200 other prisoners.There he discovers a deep connection to others who fought Castro, many from a world he never knew before ; farmers, peasants, manual workers.Lino emerges as a leader not only in fact but in the respect shown him by other prisoners. At Lino's trial he uses the one time he is permitted to speak to describe his reasons for opposing Castro, despite prejudicing his case. To Emy's relief, he is sentenced not to death but to 30 years in prison. He is returned to Ile of Pines where he and the others are subjected to brutal random attacks, beatings, and killings by guards. Lino and other leaders are determined to keep up the morale and health of the political prisoners by creating as normal an existence as possible. They organize a clinic, a library, classes, sports - anything to maintain the feeling that the years are not being thrown away. They also manage to stay in contact via radio with the outside world and smuggle letters in and out of prison. Visits by families, and the supplies they bring, are sporadic, but become a lifeline for the prisoners.The years at Ile of Pines are a series of assaults on the prisoners' morale and safety. At one point, Castro wires the prison with dynamite, in order to get rid of the Resistance fighters in case of another invasion like Bay of Pigs. Lino experiences the 1962 missile crisis via the prisoners' clandestine radio. Later he helps prisoners survive the forced labor and random killings imposed by Castro. Eventually Ile of Pines is closed and Lino is transferred to La Cabana prison near Havana. In Havana Emy struggles to create a bearable life, spending much of her time searching for the food and supplies Lino needs in prison. Although she finds some support in working at the Egyptian embassy, Emy is twice arrested for minor infractions and tried for crimes against the revolution. She moves from one friend's house to another, subject to harassment and discrimination, her only comfort coming from her friendships with other wives of dissidents and with foreigners. The couple's relationship grows through the rare visits and through passionate love letters smuggled in and out of prison. Allowed no direct contact with her children, Emy can only imagine their lives through news from friends who visit Miami and rare letters from her parents. At La Cabana prison, conditions are even worse; men are crammed into dark stone galleras, with no space to move and no light or fresh air. Steadfastly refusing to accept, even symbolically, the legitimacy of Castro's regime, Lino leads several attempts at revolt, ending in a hunger strike in which he comes close to death. After seventeen years in prison and work camps, Lino is released in the middle of the night, with no warning or explanation. He makes his way to Havana where he is reunited with Emy. However, they are still forbidden to leave Cuba. They settle down to create whatever existence they can in Havana, desperate to be with their children and subject to many limitations and harassments. One year later, during a short thaw in relations with the U.S, Castro unexpectedly allows former political prisoners to have exit visas, although there is no transport available.A group of ex-prisoners' families in Miami send a charter plane and Lino and Emy are finally reunited with their children in Miami.
Number Of Pages: 360
Published: 1st April 2007
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 21.59 x 13.97 x 2.54
Weight (kg): 0.46