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Karchian 1 Vahan Karchian Professor Gifford English 114B 21 February 2014 How The Cuban Revolution Impacted Ojitos

Life In her memoir Finding Maana, Mirta Ojito recalls her family's journey under Fidel Castro's rule in Cuba. The story is set in the mid-1960s, while Ojito is not yet two-years-old, and her parents are impatiently waiting for exit papers and a visa to the United States of America. Often reminded of the life before the revolution, Ojito is aware that her family must escape communism in Cuba. The Cuban government manages to control the vast majority of people in the country; however, this is not the case for young Ojito. Unlike most other teenagers who believe in the revolution and express their admiration for Castro, Ojito makes it clear that she opposes the revolution and its belief system. This is what gives the title to the first chapter of her memoir: "Worms Like Us." In order for one to understand the impact the Cuban Revolution had on Ojitos life, one must recognize how Ojitos journey influenced her to become a journalist. In 1959, Castro, a revolutionary, officially became the dictator of Cuba. After successfully overthrowing the Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista, Castro promised the people of Cuba that never again will there be in [their] country another 10th of March (Dorschner). The 10th of March, as Castro mentions, marked the date when Batista rose to power in Cuba. In other words, Castro made it clear that he would help end government corruption and poverty in Cuba. Although Castro successfully reduced racism and improved the health-care system, it was soon evident that his regime would have a negative impact on peoples daily lives (Fidel Castro). One aspect of the Cuban Revolution that had a major impact on peoples lives was

Karchian 2 traveling restrictions. According to Castro, applying for a travel visa was very important because he feared that the countrys intellectuals and scholars would have the opportunity to leave Cuba. Castro also feared that by allowing Cubans to travel freely, Cuba would not be able to protect its socialist system from a brain drain of doctors, engineers and scientists whod gotten a free education from the state (Miroff). This shows that Castro strongly believed in socialism, a system of government where neither one person is poor nor is any one person wealthy. In the Communist Manifesto, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels explain this theory. According to Marx and Engels, by bringing an end to capitalism and spreading socialism, this would help improve the economy and give equal opportunities for all. In addition, Marx and Engels mention that socialism is a building block of communism. However, at the University of Concepcin, Chile, when Castro was asked about his perception of communism, Castro argues: Then one day a copy of the Communist Manifestothe famous Communist Manifesto!fell into my hands and I read some things Ill never forgetWhat phrases what truths! And we saw those truths every day!Now then, was I a Communist? No. I was a man who was lucky enough to have discovered a political theory, a man who was caught up in the whirlpool of Cubas political crisis long before becoming a full-fledged Communist (Castro). This shows that Castro refused to accept the fact that he believed in communism. And yet, his actions often represented communism in Castros Cuba, as told in Ojitos memoir Finding Maana. Throughout her journey, Ojito finds that the living conditions in Cuba appear to contradict Castros socialist ideology, as mentioned. For instance, Ojito recalls her fifth grade teacher Tania, who always seems to question her religious beliefs. Tania asks Ojito, Does god put food on your table? Noooo, Fidel does.

Karchian 3 Does god give you your books and pencils so you can come to school? Nooooo, the revolution does (Ojito 21). Soon after, Ojito is fully aware that her school is strongly encouraging her to believe in the revolution, instead of God. In fact, Ojito is often asked to memorize slogan such as Fidel es mi pap y Cuba es mi mam, which in essence, translates to Fidel is my father and Cuba is my mother (Ojito 21). While going to church is a sin in Castros Cuba, it is made clear that Castro and Cuba must be admired before anything else. This, however, contradicts Castros idea of socialism, since Ojitos religious beliefs are rejected. In a socialist society, all individuals have the right to freedom of thought and freedom of religion. On another occasion, Ojito explains that the elite, or the children of government officials, have greater advantage than her during the revolution. For example, Ojito finds that many of them share stories of lavish parties and sumptuous meals, whereas her parents are forced to smuggle food and later face severe consequences (Ojito 127. Then, one time, while Ojitos father takes his family to a restaurant, the waiter refuses to serve orange sodas, claiming that [they] ran out (Ojito 128). Moments later, another waiter carries orange sodas to other guests. Not to mention, the children of government officials had a higher chance of being admitted into the countrys top school: the Lenin School, often swam in large, clean pools and wore clothes of all styles and fashions. This shows that political influence affects ones privileges and opportunities. Similarly, these events contradict Castros idea of a socialist society. In a socialist society, everyone is considered equal and discrimination does not exist. As a result, Ojito found that the events leading up to her familys departure in Cuba influenced her to become a journalist. Ojito mentions that her journey in revolutionary Cuba consisted of difficult choices, pressures, loyalties, temptations and fears (Carter).

Karchian 4 Works Cited Carter, Tom. "A Marielita Describes Her Taking Leave of Cuba." Washington Times 20 May 2005: n. pag. Print. Dorschner, John. "The Last Time." Miami Herald. The Miami Herald Media Company, 2008. Web. 19 Feb. 2014. "Fidel Castro." History. A&E Television Networks, 2014. Web. 19 Feb. 2014. Marx, Karl, and Friedrich Engels. The Communist Manifesto. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1992. Print. Miroff, Nick. "After 50 Years, Cuba Drops Unpopular Travel Restriction." National Public Radio. National Public Radio, 11 Jan. 2013. Web. 19 Feb. 2014. Ojito, Mirta. London: Penguin HC, 2005. Print.