Audio treat – Silvio Canto Jr. talking about “Cubanos in Wisconsin”

Cubanos in Wisconsin, a wonderful book written by our friend Silvio Canto Jr., with the assistance of his son Gabriel, is a must have addition to your library.

In "Cubanos in Wisconsin", I will tell you about spending summer at Ciego de Avila, or my mom's hometown...
In “Cubanos in Wisconsin”, I will tell you about spending summer at Ciego de Avila, or my mom’s hometown…

From the quiet Cuban town of Ciego to the bustling city of Havana, no Cubans were unaffected by Fidel Castro’s rise to power in the late 1950’s. Fidel’s Revolución, which began with rallies, parades, and truckloads of hope, smothered the island of Cuba with oppressive public policies that gutted the small nation’s system of enterprise and muzzled the vibrant Cuban culture of the 1950s. Symbols of capitalism were torn down and private schools were replaced with “Revolutionary Schools” established to spread Castro’s message. The country’s religious leaders were excommunicated and proud Cuban traditions like the Cuban Winter Baseball League became Fidel’s props, instruments for social and economic control. As more and more dissenters were imprisoned or killed fighting shadow wars to overthrow the regime, it was clear that human rights had become a fairy tale that existed across the sea in America. Following the failed, US-led invasion at the Bay of Pigs, Fidel’s death grip on the island grew unbearable. Like scores of other Cubans, Silvio Canto’s family fled their home country for the opportunity to lead a life of peace and freedom. The journey to freedom would not be easy. Before they left the island, the family faced boisterous Cuban officials and food shortages. Silvio watched in horror as his father’s attempt to maintain autonomy repeatedly ended in vain and his mother’s frustration with the new Cuba reached a tipping point. Leaving the island was only the first step toward their eventual resettling in a faraway land called Wisconsin. Along the way the family faced an earthquake in Mexico City, poverty and dismay in Jamaica, and culture shock in America. They lost their way of life, their country, and their dreams of a free Cuba but, with the support of family and friends, the family started a new life and formed a new identity. They became Cubanos in Wisconsin.

On March 21, Silvio was the guest on the New John Batchelor Show. Their conversation mirrors the atmosphere of the book; a loving tribute to the Canto family, the lost Cuba they left behind, and those who helped them along the way. Silvio shares his story with warmth, and a profound respect and appreciation for the people and places inhabiting his family’s journey. Listen to the show here.

Brand new for your reading pleasure, “Cubanos in Wisconsin” by Silvio Canto Jr.

If you enjoy warding off chilly winter nights getting comfortable with a warm throw and a good read, I have a treat for you. Hot off the press, Cubanos in Wisconsin, by Silvio Canto Jr., is a delicious serving of Cubania and Americana.

Our good friend Silvio Canto Jr., of Blog Talk Radio’s Canto Talk describes his book:

“The book relates our family story, from our early innocent days in Cuba, to the moment that Castro came in, to the Bay of Pigs, Missile Crisis, the Kennedy assassination, and our decision to leave Cuba.

You will learn about our family, i.e. my parents, my brother, and our little sister. This is a family story, from the crazy things that boys do to the very serious issues that my parents faced to all of the nice people who helped us along the way.”

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Cubanos in Wisconsin, written by Silvio Canto Jr., with the help of his son Gabriel, follows the Canto family on their journey from pre-Castro Cuba in the late 1950s, when the dreams of boys centered on family, baseball and their beloved island, through their early years as exiles in Wisconsin in the late 1960s. It is a family memoir, a loving tribute to Silvio Canto’s parents, aunts and uncles, the spirit of the Cuban people, and those individuals who helped and sustained them on their journey.

The story will resonate with many Cuban-Americans of a certain age, with memories of an idyllic childhood in a pre-Castro Cuba. A time of prosperity, carefree optimism, and comfortable living for a large and expanding middle-class that was lost forever in the traumatic years that followed. Silvio takes us along on his family’s journey through their last years in Cuba; the systematic loss of freedom as the Castro dictatorship intruded into every aspect of their lives, the heart-breaking decision to leave Cuba, and the very difficult time spent as outcasts, vilified as gusanos (worms), while they were waiting for permission to exit the country. We journey with them as they face the uncertainties of life as exiles via Mexico City, Jamaica, Miami, and finally to their new home in Wisconsin.

Cubanos in Wisconsin is a wonderful heartwarming book written with love, and humor. Silvio shares his memories, as well as the important historical events of the time through the eyes of his boyhood self in Cuba. We relive with him cherished childhood stories from those days long ago in Cuba: Festive winter Sundays spent watching double headers at El Cerro, Havana’s baseball stadium, where the kids ran wild and all enjoyed the pleasures of friendly rivalry, food, drink, and the music of team bands. The summers they spent visiting his mother’s family in Ciego, among cousins, playing with lizards and making mischief around town. The years of seemingly endless days attending Maristas Catholic School, with long rides on the green school bus, testing the limits of the driver’s patience with their antics. Days spent with friends, enjoying games, and playful teasing, under the watchful eye of wise and caring adults.

Silvio perfectly imparts the innocence of that lost era, a timeless age of faith, civility, and freedom; his is a story for sharing and enjoying with loved ones of all ages. If you’ve been looking for an appropriate book to teach your children or grandchildren about Cuba, and what happened there, this is the book.


Cubanos in Wisconsin is available for purchase at, click here.