In the summer of 2021, vast numbers of Cuban citizens rose in protest against the nation’s communist regime. They hoped that international public opinion would take notice of their loud cries for freedom and deliver them to help remove the yoke of communist slavery. Sadly, those hopes and protests fell upon deaf ears.
Protesting in communist Cuba takes a tremendous amount of courage. The regime always cracks down, arresting those who dare to complain.
Many of those brave Cubans who took to the streets in 2021 ended up in prison. Others decided the only way out of Cuba’s misery was to escape.
A 2022 book tells the story of one escapee who risked everything to obtain his freedom. His narrative shows that Cuba has changed little over the years. Titled A Sea Between Us, the book tells the story of Yosely Pereira, who escaped from Cuba to come to the United States and freedom.
America was and still is considered to be a beacon of hope for those suffering from communist oppression. This book is a good reminder that communism never changes. It is a system based on lies, hatred, corruption and terror, which are all described by the work.
The author grew up in the town of Cumanayagua. His father was a very outspoken critic of Castro. Thus, young Yosely’s family suffered verbally, psychologically and even physically from government harassment.
As a child growing up in Cuba, everything centered around the figure of Fidel Castro. In elementary school, the communist teacher told the students to put their heads down and pray to God for candy. The teacher asked if their prayer was heard. The answer was no. She then told the students to put their heads down again and to pray to Fidel. She quietly placed a piece of candy on each student’s desk. She told them to look and see what Fidel gave them.
Yosely was a good carpenter, a skill he learned from his father. His expertise allowed him to supplement his meager income to care for his wife, Taire and his family.
Several times, Yosely was imprisoned, not for real crimes but for ordinary, legitimate actions. One time, he was detained for fishing on government land at night, which was forbidden. He fished to help feed his hungry family.
Another time, he was imprisoned for reporting on a Cuban military truck that ran an elderly woman on a bicycle off the road and killed her. His crime was blaming the military for what he had witnessed. He learned the hard way that the communist state is always right, even if it does something wrong.
The situation became so bad that Yosely and some friends decided they had to leave Cuba and try to reach the United States. The friends secretly built a boat hidden in the jungle. When the boat was completed, they decided to flee Cuba.
Imagine the great risk of traveling in a small boat for 90 miles to reach freedom. Such a risk demonstrates how bad communist Cuba is. Thousands over the decades have made the same perilous journey. Some were successful, many were not.
Yosely did not tell his wife or family about his plans since he did not think he could get them out safely. He planned to return for them. He also kept silent for his wife’s sake since she could honestly tell the authorities she did not know what happened to him.
Despite a dangerous voyage, Yosely and his companions reached America, where he found Cuban Americans who helped them.
Eventually, Yosely made his way to Tennessee to stay with his sister, who had fled years before. There, he found work as a day laborer. The owner of the construction company took a liking to him due to his character, work ethic and ability.
The owner helped him get his wife and children out of Cuba despite several failures.
This book is a good reminder that communism is not dead. The Cuban government still kills, tortures, and abuses its people. Millions of others remain enslaved. Books like this help make sure these facts are not forgotten.
One sad aspect of the book’s narrative is the absence of religion. The regime rooted out religion from the population, thus depriving its citizens of hope and supernatural aid. While some faithful Catholics live in Cuba, it is very much an underground Church, just 90 miles from America’s shores.
The author bounces back and forth between different incidents in his life, making it a little difficult to follow. However, the book is well worth reading as a means of understanding better the evils of communism.
Photo Credit: © Joshua Davenport – stock.adobe.com