Cuban Revolution Anniversary, Maria Torres’ Lost Apple

This book about Operation Pedro Pan can give context to people seeking to evaluate the 50 years since Fidel Castro took power in Cuba.

This book about Operation Pedro Pan can give context to people seeking to evaluate the 50 years since Fidel Castro took power in Cuba.

Yesterday marked 50 years since Fidel Castro and his band of guerrillas assumed power in Cuba after toppling U.S. backed dictator Fulgencio Batista.

The now ailing Castro stepped down a couple of years ago after outlasting nine U.S. presidents and leaving his country a decidedly mixed legacy for supporters and detractors alike to debate passionately in the upcoming years and decades.

Maria de los Angeles Torres was born in Cuba and was one of more than 10,000 children who left the island in early 60s on Operation Pedro Pan.

Decades later and after a stint in Harold Washington’s administration, Torres returned to her childhood experience with a scholar’s eye.

The Lost Apple: Operation Pedro Pan, Cuban Children in the U.S., and the Promise of a Better Future is the book that resulted from her efforts and lawsuit against the CIA to declassify documents related to the program.

Operation Pedro Pan has generated novels and poetry, and Torres’ work argues that the children in the program were used by the United States government locked in a Cold War struggle with the former Soviet Union. 

The experience of the children, particularly those who did not reunite with their families, was painful and even heartrending.  Singer Candi Sosa, who starred in the propaganda film by the same name as the book title, is just one example of the many children who suffered abuse in the United States.

A fascinating personal connection for me was that Penny Powers, the British woman who administered the Kindertransport program by which my father and uncle left Germany in the late 1930s, ran Operation Pedro Pan, too. 

This is just one of the many informative aspects of this worthwhile book for those looking to learn more about the island that marked a half century yesterday since a bearded leader entered its capital brimming with triumph and possibility.

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