When The Dolphins Cry: Escaping Cuba
In this engrossing, two-part novel, which weaves together fact and fiction, Yolanda Ortal-Miranda brings to center stage one of the tragic but generally under-reported results of the Cuban Revolution: the steady exodus by sea of thousands of Cubans, desperate for freedom and at the breaking point in their ability to tolerate the stifling tyranny of the Castro regime. The plot is gripping, and the characters are colorful, fascinating and endearing. Through them, we see the realities of life in post-Revolution Cuba and the enduring quest to live where there is freedom and respect for human rights. As the novel opens, the reader is immediately transported to Cuba–a parallel, but third world, universe just 90 miles from American shores. The year is 1970, and the story is true. Rafael, a determined young man, is cutting cane at a People’s Farm, hating every minute of the cruel, obligatory servitude that has been thrust on him by the government. After unsuccessful attempts to leave legally, he and his three brothers decide to swim across the dangerous waters of Guantanamo Bay, in the dark of night, to seek political asylum at the U.S. Naval Base. Will they succeed? The characters of Part II are fictional stereotypes of the following generation, whose desperation to be free, no less than those who came before, gives them the courage to defy nature and the Cuban government by crossing the perilous, shark-infested Straits of Florida in anything that will float. The reader will meet, and come to know, a fascinating collage of desperate Cubans whose lives intersect in the 1990s as they flee their homeland in an old fishing boat: Amalia, a resolute university professor; Gustavo, an oceanographer in love with Amalia; Pedro, a veteran fisherman and captain of the boat; his wife, Aquilina, the devoted mother of their totally disabled son, Santiago; and Maribel and Arturo, political dissidents. When their boat capsizes, a “Brothers to the Rescue” plane appears. Will the survivors be saved? The author’s hope in writing this novel is that its readers will emotionally connect with the characters as their stories unfold, and that they will be truly moved by the real and ongoing human tragedy that the book exposes.
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