Confessions of a Secret Latina:
How I Fell Out of Love with Castro & in Love with the Cuban People
by Barbara E. Joe (Honduras 2000–03)
$15.77 (paperback), $5.99 (Kindle)
Reviewed by Bob Arias (Colombia 1964–66)
I agree 100% with Barbara Joe, the real criminals are the Castro brothers . . . Fidel and Raul! What they have done to the people of Cuba cannot be tolerated . . . simply said, they have been cruel and inhumane to the very people that brought them to power. A recently released Afro-Cuban former Amnesty International prisoner of conscience, Dr. Oscar Biscet, said that 85% of Cuban prisoners are of African descent. And many prisoners are behind bars not because they committed a crime, but because the Castro brothers feel the individual may perhaps in the future commit a crime against the Peoples Republic of Cuba . . . lock them up before they commit the crime of questioning the all powerful Caballo or Horse as Fidel is called.
In its 2010 report, Freedom House designated Cuba as the only “not free” country in the Americas. And in the 2011 issue of Foreign Affairs named the world’s six worst dictators, among them Cuban president Raul Castro. Read on, it gets better.
The beauty of Confessions is Barbara’s love and respect for the Cuban people and Cuba the country. She becomes a gringa with a Cuban and Latina heart, always keeping beat with her friends and neighbors. Barbara has spent so much of her life living and working among Latin Americans that she has become a Latina in more ways than many second and third generation Latinos. Her Cuban friends say “eres familia” [you are family]! I found her to speak with a Colombian-Honduran accent with all the correct phrases spoken in perfect Spanish. And as a member of Amnesty International she has gained the respect and cariño of former prisoners and their families . . . her book tells us that she cares! Barbara does not respect the Castro brothers, but she loves the Cubans, their island, food, and music. She dreams that Cuba will gain its freedom someday in our lifetime, and find a place for itself in Latin America.
I encourage you to read Confessions of a Secret Latina because you will have an opportunity to see the real Cuba through the eyes of someone who has visited the island many times because of her efforts with Amnesty International. A relationship with AI that brings forth the objectivity that is so crucial to her work. Barbara’s involvement with Cuba began when she became a foster parent of an unaccompanied minor Marielito in 1980, and then continued when she joined Amnesty International in 1981. For the last 11 years, since she returned from the Peace Corps, she has been volunteer coordinator for the Caribbean for AI USA.
Barbara knows the reality of life under the Castro brothers, but also sees the beauty of the island, Cuba and the warmth of Cubans. With the serious problems facing Venezuela, Cuba has to make some changes to survive, but who will tell Fidel? And as Che discovered, only one person can be pretentious, overbearing and arrogant in Cuba, Fidel el Caballo!
Eres Latina Barbara!
Bob Arias (Colombia 1964–66) was an APCD in Colombia (1968–73) and from 1993–95 Country Director in Uruguay and Argentina. He returned to the Peace Corps (2001–03) and established the Safety and Security Office. Retired from Los Angeles County where he worked as a Compliance Officer, today he is a Peace Corps Response Volunteer (formerly known as a Crisis Corps) and has worked in Paraguay, Colombia, and now Panamá, since 2009.