I was born in Havana, two years before the revolution marched triumphant on my home city. My mother says it was a Sunday. We came to the U.S. in 1969, just months before Neil Armstrong took that giant leap for mankind, and settled in Los Angeles.
This web site is a labor of love, made without any connection to any political or historical organization, and free of their politics. My purpose is to encourage and facilitate an honest exploration of Cuban history, and to present a balanced work that achieves something rarely seen today; a deep but straightforward look at a brave, courageous and creative people with a unique identity and a seldom-shared point of view. And to honor the spirit and commitment of Cuban history figures such as José Martí, Antonio Maceo and many others, I have adhered to the highest standards, and have actively questioned everything related to this record.
My interest in Cuban history dates back to my late teens and early twenties, when I realized that most of the Latino culture available to me in Los Angeles had a much more Mexican and Latin American flavor… stimulating and mysterious, but not Cuban. This realization sparked a life-long journey of books, tapes, letters, conversations, arguments, images and interviews that eventually grew into the site that exists today.
This web site is a labor of love, made without a connection to any political or historical organization, and free of their politics.
I soon realized that most of the information we hear about Cuba is often stilted, inaccurate or just incomplete, having to mold itself into the Castro question in a simplistic pro or con manner, while managing to flow with the prevailing winds. I also noticed that most history text-books used in schools do not present a clear, truthful picture of the island’s long and complex history, often sacrificing the island’s multi-racial angle in favor of a decidedly North American “business” perspective.
I became a book hound. There isn’t a library book on Cuba available in LA, Santa Monica or San Francisco that I haven’t borrowed at some time. The many used-book stores in the Bay Area, and the emergence of online book shopping, allowed me to build a modest library of Cuban history books, fearing that some of these might disappear, as many of them do (try finding a copy of Foner’s “Maceo” or Carlos Franqui’s “The Twelve”). Like I said; a labor of love.
I love the idea that through the Internet any one with a computer and a modem can learn about Maceo, Martí, and the rebel invasion of Havana and the Western provinces in 1896, two full years ahead of U.S. intervention.
To those who’ve used the site it may be obvious that the segment of Cuban history most fascinating to me is the struggle for independence and identity that began sometime after the British captured Havana in 1762 and extends all the way up to the end of the Spanish-Cuban-American War in 1898. This is where the Cuban identity began to be forged by many who gave their lives, and many more who dedicated every second of their existence to the ideal that became Cuba; a society in which blacks and whites can be considered equal and can expect truth and righteousness from society in equal doses. Cuba remains one of the few places on our hemisphere where such an ideal is even remotely possible.
But enough philosophizing and more about me.
I spent most of the eighties as a practical creative samurai, working mostly as a freelance writer/photographer for publications such as Petersen’s Photographic, The Rangefinder, Publish, POST, Producer's Quarterly, Film/Tape World, CUE, LAN and others. I also spent some time bringing dead movies back to life at Color Systems Technology in Marina del Rey, and served as Contributing Editor at Presentation Products Magazine long before webs were something other than the natural by-product of busy arachnids.
Back then you could find my photography in the weekly newspapers such as the LA Weekly, the LA Reader, the Santa Monica Free Weekly, the San Diego Reader and others, while my collage work could be seen at LA galleries such as The Cannon Gallery, LA Grange Aux Crepes Photographic Gallery, LAPC, Cameravision and others. Life was a mystery, existence a miracle, and art a gift!
I explored various schools and disciplines, not sure about what I wanted to do when I “grew up” and curious about everything from art, music, sculpture, literature (though I never was a poet and I know it) film, editing, video production, presentations, graphics, stop-motion animations, special effects, colorizing (and just about anything having to do with color display and presentation) and, yes, Al Gore’s Information Superhighway.
It was the emergence of digital technology that seemed to laser-focus my interests enough to return to school and complete my undergraduate degree in cultural anthropology at the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS), and later pursue a Masters program in information technology at Colorado Technical University (CTU) Online, from which I graduated in January 2010.