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Winter 2009

Winter 2009

Fidel's Cuba

Volume 85, Number 1

• Neil Shea retraces Castro’s path to Revolution
• Lygia Navarro on mental illness and addiction in Cuba
• Paul Reyes returns to Cuba with his exiled father and uncle
• A symposium on the Life and Work of Mahmoud Darwish
• Fiction by Carolina De Robertis, Laleh Khadivi, and Vinnie Wilhelm
• Poetry by Michael Collier, Dave Lucas, Pablo Neruda, Ricardo Pau-Llosa, and R. A. Villanueva

[toc] Table of Contents




Winter 2009, Fidel’s Cuba

Table of Contents

Tom, René, and José on horseback, Alta Habana. (Image courtesy of the author)

Patria y Muerte

My father wanted out. In a matter of days we’d trotted through a vigil for a Cuban childhood interrupted. I had anticipated creeping toward these emotional watersheds. But Hurricane Gustav had thrown us off, tightened the trip’s deadline. So we darted from spot to spot: the house where Rifé brought my father to live; where my father was put to work the next year (La Unica still in operation but with only an elderly woman idly guarding sacks of flour); to Quivicán, where the past crashed down in fits but the dreaded specter of politics was salved by pork and rum and artful bullshitting, by legends of the farm and the physical reality of René’s grave, the mystery of his whereabouts finally made palpable. Through it all, we never stopped sweating. My father, for one, was visibly thinner in a week’s time, his belt, notched by habit, sagging below his waist button. Rather than clearing the air, the storm had brought a worse heat in its wake.

Editor’s Desk



Che Sat Here





The Ashes


The Eternal Traveler (print only)


Author Profiles

Paul Reyes is VQR’s Editor and is the author of Exiles in Eden: Life Among the Ruins of Florida’s Great Recession.

Neil Shea is a writer, filmmaker, and teacher. His work regularly appears in National Geographic, and he’s a contributing editor to VQR and the American Scholar.