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Castro'S Final Hour Paperback – October 29, 1993
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From Publishers Weekly
Miami Herald foreign correspondent Oppenheimer presents a revelatory close-up of Cuba following the Soviet Union's withdrawal of subsidies. Photos.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
This exciting, highly readable behind-the-scenes account of Castro's Cuba, based on the author's five trips to the island from 1989-91 and involving 500 interviews, explores events that led to the 1989 trial and execution of General Arnaldo Ochoa Sanchez. Oppenheimer, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for the Miami Herald, skillfully presents this complex case as a means of assessing the larger context of the Cuban revolution, the inflexibility of its leadership, and the paranoia of Fidel and Raul Castro. In addition to demonstrating Fidel's knowledge of Cuban involvement in drug trafficking, the author illustrates how high-ranking officers in Cuba's expeditionary forces used often unsavory business deals to finance government foreign policy and military goals. Highly recommended for all collections.
- Roderic A. Camp, Latin American Ctr., Tulane Univ., New Orleans, La.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
The system Castro constructed is a marvel of state control. There is really nothing else in the world quite like it, although the North Korean regime gets similar results using more consistently brutal and heavy-handed methods. In retrospect, it seems odd that while Mr. Oppenheimer was able to explain a great deal about how the system works, he came to the conclusion that it would soon fail anyway.
So to sum up the book: Good research, lots of data and anecdotes, very well written, faulty conclusion. It seems that the world, and the luckless Cuban people, are stuck with the old caudillo until he dies.
This is not a Fidel Castro biography; it is however, a synopsis of the events that lead to Cuba's virtual ruin. "Castro's Final Hour" opens with the 1989 executions of four high-ranking Cuban military officers of which two stood out among the rest: Col. Antonio de La Guardia and Division General Arnaldo Ochoa Sanchez. According to Oppenheimer, these executions may have well marked the disillusionment of the Cuban people with their revolutionary leader, Fidel Castro. The executions may have also precipitated Cuba's disintegration in the eyes of the world community. Oppenheimer writes of the decline of Cuba's relations with its ideological allies in Panama, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Angola, Germany . . . and its most important and economic lifeline, the Soviet Union.
Oppenheimer tackles the difficult and delicate issue of equanimity between Cuba's systems of free education and healthcare and the government's food rationing program, which drastically reduced the foodstuffs that Cubans received monthly, and which worsened as the Soviet Union pulled its resources from the island. The struggle the Cuban people faced after Mikhail Gorbachev's Soviet Union converted to a free market economy along with most of Europe and Latin America became a devastating fact of life.
Oppenheimer describes life in Cuba. Cuba, once considered the jewel of the Caribbean was transformed into an island of despair where Cubans lived uneventful lives and struggled daily just to survive and make ends meet. It was in this environment, the author writes, where the "black market" flourished and became a vital organ for Cuban survival. The black market became the way business was conducted and stealing from the state became prevalent. Life on the island was so monotonous, especially for young Cubans, that promiscuous sexual behavior became a kind of national pastime. Oppenheimer writes that the seemingly hopelessness of the situation and a dismal outlook for the future drove many people to make the ninety mile trek through the treacherous waters to Miami, Florida to seek a better life in the US. The situation was also the driving force behind young Cubans (roqueros), like Carlos Vela, to write songs that discreetly protested their disillusionment with their revolutionary regime.
Oppenheimer explains how diminishing imports of petroleum, raw materials, clothing, foodstuffs, and medical supplies from the Soviet Union and other countries resulted in shortages in everything. As a consequence, Cuba desperately attempted to revitalize its island's tourism - a reversal from Marxism-Leninism to a form of quasi-capitalism for survival, but which created controversy from within Cuba's people. Oppenheimer covers a myriad of events that allow readers to gain a firm understanding of Cuba's economic crisis.
Fidel Castro underwent major intestinal surgery in August of 2006 leaving Cuba in a state of uncertainty over the country's future even with his brother, Raul Castro, at the helm. This event makes Andres Oppenheimer's, "Castro's Final Hour" an important book because it gives readers a birds eye view of where Cuba was and where it stands in today's global picture. It is a fast and informative read - hard to put down once you begin. It is well balanced and honest and a definite must read.
This book is a must for supporters of the Cuban revolution because it forces us to confront the realities Cubans face in their daily lives, without the rose-colored glasses of socialist idealism.
Most recent customer reviews
Yes, there are A LOT of things to criticize about the communist government in the island.Read more