Acclaimed author, professor, talks about his Cuban and American experience
DARTMOUTH — As a Cuban American, Carlos Eire said he is not happy about the United States’ effort to normalize relations with his home country.“I am not and I cannot be. Anyone who reads this history will know why,” Eire, acclaimed author and Yale professor, said to a packed room in UMass Dartmouth’s Claire T. Carney library on Monday afternoon. “It’s all about justice.”
One of the 14,000 unaccompanied “Peter Pan” children, ages 3-18, who were rescued from Cuba in the early 1960s and raised in the U.S., Eire describes the trauma of that separation coupled with the new opportunities that awaited him in two of his books, written wholly from memory.
“I am two different people — a historian of late medieval history and a professional Cuban,” he said as he read from the “preambulo” of his book “Waiting for Snow in Havana.”
“Memory is the most potent truth. Show me history untouched by memories and you show me lies,” he said.
Torn from his family at the age of 11, raised first by a Jewish family and then in a Cuban camp, Eire was reunited with his mother after three-and-a-half years in the United States. He never saw his father and wasn’t allowed to attend his funeral when he died. All his books are banned in Cuba and Eire never returned.
The personal memories of his childhood and the history of his home country “collide and crash,” for Eire, who often spoke with great emotion about Cuban school children forced to work for free in agricultural camps on the other side of the island where their parents could not reach them; about mandatory military service for boys over 17; how less than 3 percent of the population has access to the Internet; and how anyone can be imprisoned for distributing the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
“Almost every family has been destroyed, one way or another, by this regime but (the regime) has never been punished for their crimes against humanity,” he said.
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