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Study Guide for The Cubans

For Book Clubs and other groups striving to better understand what is happening in Cuba.

1. Cary, Pipo and the artist, Arturo Montoto, were members of the Communist Party of Cuba (CCP) for many years. Each had different reasons for joining, for remaining and for leaving. What were their motivations? How did belonging to the party affect their lives?

2. Maria del Carmen Alvarez never joined the party or denounced her Catholic faith. What calculations would a Cuban make when faced with cooperating with a regime one did not support?

3. Mari relied on her long family history, her ancient house in Guanabacoa and her passion for Spanish dance to survive the 40 years she spent checking the condition of dead fish under a system that excluded her because of her faith. Was she courageous in dealing with her situation this way, or should she have left as so many others did? Is the way she lived her life different from the way that Arturo Montoto has lived through the revolution?

4. The Cuban government never took responsibility for sinking the 13 de Marzo tugboat, claiming it was an accident and blaming the people on board for stealing property that belonged to the Cuban people. Is this a morally justifiable position?

5. Near the end of The Cubans, Caridad Limonta admits that for her, the revolution is lost. What did she mean, and how does her sentiment relate to the protests of July 11?

6. Lili Hernandez and her son Joseito have two very different views of the revolution. How do the circumstances of their own lives shape their attitude about the revolution?

7. How did you feel when you read about the way Lili handled her father’s illness and death? Is her continuing faith in the revolution warranted? What does the manner of his death say about the reality of life, and death, in Cuba? How does that reality square with the broad perceptions of free health care in revolutionary Cuba?

8. The harsh reality of life in Guanabacoa in 1994 drove Jorge Garcia’s family to take the drastic steps of commandeering the tug and trying to flee to Florida. How do conditions in Cuba today compare to those days? Is Garcia’s campaign to bring Cuban officials to justice legitimate? What is the difference between the Maleconazo that Miriam Diaz unwittingly walked into while shopping for wedding shoes and the July 11, 2021, protests?

9. As a Cuban of color, Cary benefitted from the revolution. Yet she was continually reminded that Cuba is not color blind. What do her experiences, such as when the customer in her workshop told her that doing business there was like doing business with whites, say about the limits of the revolution’s successes?

10. Despite her harsh experiences taking care of her father, Lili Hernandez has remained loyal to the revolution and Cuba’s communist system. On the other hand, her friend Cary turned against the system because it treated her mother too well. Which woman manifested higher ideals?


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