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[titlebox title=’Explore The History of the Cuban Revolution’ button=’Buy Books Now’ link=’http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=la_B00JBRE1NK_B00JBRE1NK_sr?rh=i%3Abooks&field-author=Yolanda+Ortal-Miranda&sort=relevance&ie=UTF8&qid=1399903172′ icon=’shopping-cart’]The Sleepwalkers’ Ballad, Balada Sonámbula, When The Dolphins Cry and Cuando Lloran Los Delfines are available for purchase on Amazon![/titlebox]

A Message from Yolanda Ortal-Miranda…

I am a Cuban-born author. At the College of Saint Rose in Albany, New York, where I taught for 28 years, I was Chair of the Department of Foreign Languages, and now, Professor Emeritus. I’ve written two books on Cuba, both of which weave together real-life historical events and figures with fictional characters and experiences that I have created in order to tell the tragic story of what has happened to my beloved Cuba in the past 55 years.

My first book is entitled “The Sleepwalkers’ Ballad: Memories of the Revolution.” It tells the story of the last years of the Batista dictatorship, the rise of Fidel Castro and Castro’s betrayal of all the promises he made to the Cuban people as his movement gained momentum and drove Batista from the country. The book was written as a screenplay because I thought that, someday, someone could use it as the basis of a movie, since movies often touch us like no other media can. And because I actually lived through the Cuban Revolution and worked in the largest underground movement against Castro after realizing that Fidel had betrayed all of his promises, I feel that “The Sleepwalkers’ Ballad” has a unique sense of validity. Through short but direct scenes, the reader is able to share the panorama of experiences that I myself had, first, as a young, idealistic student at the University of Havana – when I saw the crimes and corruption of the Batista regime and knew that change was needed – and later on –  when I saw the same crimes and corruption happening under Castro –  as a member of the clandestine movement MRR, the Movement for the Recovery of the Revolution. The book articulates not only my hope that Castro could be the solution to the corruption and abuses of the Batista regime, especially after the failure of the attack on the Presidential Palace, and the killing of José Antonio Echevarría, who in his position as President of the Federation of Students at the University of Havana was the most recognizable and respected anti-Batista opponent in the country, but also my disillusionment when it became clear that Castro, who already had a less than pristine reputation, was not the man, the agent of change, that he had portrayed himself to be in his radio broadcasts from the guerilla camp in the Sierra Maestra mountains. We never dreamed that his reforms, described by him as necessary, just, and fair, would be so devastating to our farmers, our workers, our business and professional people, our writers, our teachers, our economy, and our very nation!. Fidel lied, and we trusted him, just like the press and the intelligentsia all over the world!

Batista fled Cuba in the early morning hours of January 1st, 1959. A week later, we celebrated the victorious arrival of Castro in Havana. We cried for joy. We hoped and expected great things to happen, but Castro became the new tyrant. The new Regime began to function. Anyone opposed to it was incarcerated or executed. We, the people, tried to ignore what was going on, or at least rationalize the chaos. “A revolution is never bloodless…the crimes of the past must be avenged…” But as the months passed by, we could not deny what was happening: another dictatorship was being created.

Castro did not hold, as promised, elections within a year. In fact, he broke and betrayed all his promises, including respecting the human rights of individuals, freedom of expression, and justice for all. Justice became whatever he wanted it to be. The Agrarian Reform, as he implemented it, ended up putting all land and property under the ownership and control of “the people” – in other words, Castro’s government. The Urban and Monetary Reforms were the names given to the takeover of banks, homes, apartment buildings, private industry and businesses, schools, hospitals, etc. Widespread corruption and bureaucratic regulations, multiplied over the years, have destroyed the economy, the middle class (the largest segment of the population), and the standard of living of everyone. Even the lives of the poor did not improve.

In my book, all of these “reforms” are dramatized in short scenes that show how the Revolutionary laws were imposed. The reader will have, at the end, a picture of what a total failure the reforms were, and how they produced the collapse of a prosperous nation.

Disenchanted with the Castro regime, I joined the largest underground movement within Cuba, the MRR, whose goal was to revive and restore the ideals of the Revolution as promised by Fidel, and to ensure the fair implementation of the social and economic reforms that had destabilized the country. I had the privilege of working with Manolín Guillot (called by his noms de guerre Carlos and Monty in my book), the Chief of Intelligence of the MRR, who was executed by firing squad on August 30, 1962.

My other book is a novel: “When the Dolphins Cry: Escaping Cuba.” It blends real characters and verifiable, horrendous happenings in Cuba with fictional elements that bring to life the ongoing exodus by sea of thousands of Cubans, desperate for freedom, who have escaped their homeland either by swimming to the US Naval Base at Guantánamo (as the true-life character, Rafael, and his three brothers did, in Part I of the novel) or by individuals and families crossing the Florida Straits in anything that could possibly float (in Part II). The book begins in 1970, well after the Castro/Communist Revolution had established its tyrannical grip on all aspects of Cuban life, producing widespread fear, poverty, scarcity of resources, and hopelessness. It should be noted that the exodus that my book deals with is different from the 1980 Mariel boatlift, when Castro allowed a quarter of a million Cubans, including thousands of criminals and the mentally ill, to leave Cuba on navigable boats and emigrate to the United States to alleviate a severe shortage of food that the island nation was experiencing. “When the Dolphins Cry” is a homage to Cubans who were not allowed to leave, but dared to do so anyway, or died trying.

I’ve dedicated my adult life to my teaching career and the writing of these two books. I want to tell the world the real story of the Cuban people, the Cuban culture, and the Cuban Revolution! It never ceases to amaze me that, even now, the vast majority of Americans are unaware of the extent of the tragic plight of the Cuban people that has been an ongoing reality for over 50 years, just 90 miles from our shores.

My books are written and translated from Spanish into English. I want to leave them in libraries and in the hands of good readers now, so when I’m gone from this wonderful world, there will be an honest, true account of what really happened in Cuba. The Revolution destroyed a prosperous nation instead of being an example of what it could have accomplished in Latin America. What a tragedy, and what an outrage! I was a witness to history and my books will be my legacy.

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[featurebox icon=’book’ title=’The Sleepwalkers Ballad’]                 English Edition.[/featurebox]

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[featurebox icon=’book’ title=’Balada Sonámbula’]                 Spanish Edition.[/featurebox]

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[featurebox icon=’book’ title=’When The Dolphins Cry’]                 English Edition.[/featurebox]

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[featurebox icon=’book’ title=’Cuando Lloran Los Delfines’]                 Spanish Edition.[/featurebox]

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Commentaries


Review of “When the Dolphins Cry”

“When the Dolphins Cry” is an amazing literary work that captures the pain and suffering of the Cuban people in their perpetual struggle against human rights violations and the totalitarian regime of Fidel and Raúl Castro.

Thanks to Yolanda’s enormous literary talent, there is a direct and compelling connection between the first and second parts of her novel, which span a time frame of over 30 years. There is a masterful fusion of the two, using the elements of time and motive that persist as the Castro regime exerts its power over succeeding generations.

Yolanda’s prose, replete with sharp, tough realism, takes the reader along the difficult paths taken by each of its main characters; all of them lead to the sea as the only way to escape the suffocating tyranny of the Castro regime. We, the readers, are caught up in their stories, not wanting to put the book down until we know how their valiant decisions play out. The characters in both parts speak for themselves about their humanity. They are unforgettable.

Dr. Julio Hernández Miyares, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus
The City University of New York, Kingsborough College
Member of PEN International

2014-07-07T14:31:46+00:00

Dr. Julio Hernández Miyares, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus
The City University of New York, Kingsborough College
Member of PEN International

“When the Dolphins Cry” is an amazing literary work that captures the pain and suffering of the Cuban people in their perpetual struggle against human rights violations and the totalitarian regime of Fidel and Raúl Castro. Thanks to Yolanda’s enormous literary talent, there is a direct and compelling connection between the first and second parts of her novel, which span a time frame of over 30 years. There is a masterful fusion of the two, using the elements of time and motive that persist as the Castro regime exerts its power over succeeding generations. Yolanda’s prose, replete with sharp, tough realism, takes the reader along the difficult paths taken by each of its main characters; all of them lead to the sea as the only way to escape the suffocating tyranny of the Castro regime. We, the readers, are caught up in their stories, not wanting to put the book down until we know how their valiant decisions play out. The characters in both parts speak for themselves about their humanity. They are unforgettable.

Review of “When the Dolphins Cry”

Allow me to quote from José Marti: “Each culture expresses itself through literature, so that, in the different manifestations of itself, one can know what has happened in the past with a greater sense of truth than from historical chronicles.”

In Yolanda Ortal-Miranda’s “When the Dolphins Cry,” there is no one singular protagonist hero or martyr. There are many principal characters, because we are facing the actual history of Cuba that is mirrored in the lives of the people who have lived it during this painful period that is still going on. Therefore, Yolanda’s characters are not fictional, in the narrow sense of the word, because they embody others who have had the same experiences in real life.

What identifies and frames these characters? It is the participation in the same anguish, the same ambiguity, and the same question: to continue living, or not, under an oppressive dictatorship? In some, the emotional asphyxiation is unbearable.

“When the Dolphins Cry” is a realistic novel written in direct language, where the rudeness of objective reality is sometimes swept aside by a necessary, ethereal poetic breath.

Testimonies like the ones in this novel should be shared with the world, so that they will remain in the historic memory of Cuba, repeating themselves and opposing those who intend to bury, in silence and forgetfulness, these infernal pages of our history, whose threshold should bear the inscription: DO NOT FORGET.

Dr. Ángel Cuadra, Professor and Poet
Political prisoner under Castro
Member of PEN International

2014-07-07T14:34:15+00:00

Dr. Ángel Cuadra, Professor and Poet
Political prisoner under Castro
Member of PEN International

Allow me to quote from José Marti: “Each culture expresses itself through literature, so that, in the different manifestations of itself, one can know what has happened in the past with a greater sense of truth than from historical chronicles.” In Yolanda Ortal-Miranda’s “When the Dolphins Cry,” there is no one singular protagonist hero or martyr. There are many principal characters, because we are facing the actual history of Cuba that is mirrored in the lives of the people who have lived it during this painful period that is still going on. Therefore, Yolanda’s characters are not fictional, in the narrow sense of the word, because they embody others who have had the same experiences in real life. What identifies and frames these characters? It is the participation in the same anguish, the same ambiguity, and the same question: to continue living, or not, under an oppressive dictatorship? In some, the emotional asphyxiation is unbearable. “When the Dolphins Cry” is a realistic novel written in direct language, where the rudeness of objective reality is sometimes swept aside by a necessary, ethereal poetic breath. Testimonies like the ones in this novel should be shared with the world, so that they will remain in the historic memory of Cuba, repeating themselves and opposing those who intend to bury, in silence and forgetfulness, these infernal pages of our history, whose threshold should bear the inscription: DO NOT FORGET.

Review of “The Sleepwalkers’ Ballad: Memories of the Revolution”

It is logical that, instead of making her book a novel, the author decided to give her message in the form of a screenplay. Besides being readable as written, it can also be utilized later for the screen (her final objective), since the definition of a screenplay is “a written text, conceived from its start, to be transformed into images.”

I believe that Yolanda has accomplished her dual objective of creating an engrossing work for today’s reader that will also serve as a resource for future generations.

Dr. Julio Hernández Miyares, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus,
The City University of New York, Kingsborough College
Member of PEN International

2014-07-09T13:04:36+00:00

Dr. Julio Hernández Miyares, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus,
The City University of New York, Kingsborough College
Member of PEN International

It is logical that, instead of making her book a novel, the author decided to give her message in the form of a screenplay. Besides being readable as written, it can also be utilized later for the screen (her final objective), since the definition of a screenplay is “a written text, conceived from its start, to be transformed into images.” I believe that Yolanda has accomplished her dual objective of creating an engrossing work for today’s reader that will also serve as a resource for future generations.

Review of “The Sleepwalkers’ Ballad: Memories of the Revolution”

“The Sleepwalkers’ Ballad” is a literary work that—more than being a traditional narrative, more than a collection of stories, more than an academic text—is a living source of history.

The author’s unique use of dialogue, which taps into her experiences as a member of the MRR, gives strength and realism to the story.

This work has dramatic impact; it shows human characters, with their passions, involved in real-life episodes.  Using the dynamic force of dialogue, the author has succeeded in captivating the reader from the very beginning of the book.

Don José Duarte Oropesa, Historian
Author of “Historiología Cubana” and “Cosmología
Member of The Academy of History of Cuba

2014-07-09T13:05:59+00:00

Don José Duarte Oropesa, Historian
Author of “Historiología Cubana” and “Cosmología
Member of The Academy of History of Cuba

“The Sleepwalkers’ Ballad” is a literary work that—more than being a traditional narrative, more than a collection of stories, more than an academic text—is a living source of history. The author’s unique use of dialogue, which taps into her experiences as a member of the MRR, gives strength and realism to the story. This work has dramatic impact; it shows human characters, with their passions, involved in real-life episodes.  Using the dynamic force of dialogue, the author has succeeded in captivating the reader from the very beginning of the book.

Review of “The Sleepwalkers’ Ballad: Memories of the Revolution”

In a few pages, Yolanda has been able to recount Cuba’s history, in which she left her own footprints, feelings and loves.  Amidst the footlights of the clandestine movement grew the friendships that inspired heroic deeds.  By merely recalling the names of Echeverría, Fructuoso Rodríguez and Manolín Guillot, we are reminded that history opened to them the doors of immortality.  They were national heroes who gave everything for what they wanted most: liberty.

Dr. José Ignacio Rasco, Professor
Founder, Christian Democratic Movement (in Cuba)

2014-07-09T13:09:10+00:00

Dr. José Ignacio Rasco, Professor
Founder, Christian Democratic Movement (in Cuba)

In a few pages, Yolanda has been able to recount Cuba’s history, in which she left her own footprints, feelings and loves.  Amidst the footlights of the clandestine movement grew the friendships that inspired heroic deeds.  By merely recalling the names of Echeverría, Fructuoso Rodríguez and Manolín Guillot, we are reminded that history opened to them the doors of immortality.  They were national heroes who gave everything for what they wanted most: liberty.

Review of “The Sleepwalkers’ Ballad: Memories of the Revolution”

In this work, fictitious characters are blended with real ones.  The love story of María and Alfredo serves as a poetic counterpoint to soften the hardness and cruelty of this tragic chapter in Cuba’s history.

Ellen Lismore Leeder, Professor Emeritus
Barry University, Miami, Florida

2014-07-09T13:09:55+00:00

Ellen Lismore Leeder, Professor Emeritus
Barry University, Miami, Florida

In this work, fictitious characters are blended with real ones.  The love story of María and Alfredo serves as a poetic counterpoint to soften the hardness and cruelty of this tragic chapter in Cuba’s history.

Review of “When the Dolphins Cry”

When the Dolphins Cry is a book written in strong and direct language that captures the reader from the very beginning.  There are scenes, like the escape by swimming across the treacherous Bay of Guantánamo, that are replete with intense dramatic tension; others, like the storm that sinks the old fishing boat in which Amalia, Maribel and Gustavo embarked, are narrated with the same horror of the real stories that we have heard from those who have survived the dangerous crossing of the Straits of Florida.  It is a marvelous novel:  forceful and enlightening.
Manuel C. Díaz
El Nuevo Herald, Miami, Florida
2014-07-09T13:43:42+00:00
Manuel C. Díaz
El Nuevo Herald, Miami, Florida
When the Dolphins Cry is a book written in strong and direct language that captures the reader from the very beginning.  There are scenes, like the escape by swimming across the treacherous Bay of Guantánamo, that are replete with intense dramatic tension; others, like the storm that sinks the old fishing boat in which Amalia, Maribel and Gustavo embarked, are narrated with the same horror of the real stories that we have heard from those who have survived the dangerous crossing of the Straits of Florida.  It is a marvelous novel:  forceful and enlightening.

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A Short Introduction


Music by Yolanda


Facing the Other Shore

María’s Song

Death at Dawn

Anticipation

A Grey Rain is Falling

I Know How to Count Stars

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