Going back to where one lived as a child is always a cherished aspiration. In the case of theater artist and author Walter Fitzwater, who traveled back to Cuba, was also a time to re-evaluate his life as a whole. The revealing and thought-provoking work is now out as “Cuba, the Island I Treasure,” available on Amazon.
Walter Fitzwater’s “Cuba, the Island I Treasure” makes for a fascinating read for anyone interested in the country and how it has fared since its famous Revolution, to which Walter was a witness growing up. Desperate to see his country and some of his relatives again, Walter went on a journey, where he examined the country’s past, present, and future. Walter, also living with HIV/AIDS for 32 years, had the opportunity to travel back when he was asked to accompany a theater group and teach about surviving the disease.
For Walter, today’s Cubans have become accustomed to the lack of goods and commodities and making the best of their circumstances. They go about trying to survive, some were happy, and others apathetic. Walter also felt an authority watching over his shoulders and ‘the repression of subliminal rule.’ He kept asking if ignorance was bliss (yes, conformity) and whether the Cuban Revolution had worked or failed.
The book comprises stories with many exciting moments while growing-up in Guantanamo, like during the Revolution when Walter was in the middle of gunfire and his house shook with mortar. The entry of Fidel Castro and his commanders in triumph is also described. Walter also describes the trampling of the promises of the Revolution by its own founders and the tender moments when he had to leave his adopted home and his beloved grandmother. The last memory is of leaving Cuba in 1962 during the Missile Crisis at the age of 14.
“The author paints a vivid picture of everyday Cuban life, the foods, the music, the joys, drinking coffee and smoking cigars and sometimes humorous inconveniences. The writing style is concise, yet fluid with just the right amount of detail that draws one into the story. Infinitely readable,” says a recent reader review.
President Barack Obama wrote to Walter, “Thank you for writing and for your kind gift. The best way to advance our Nation’s interest and values is through open engagements rather than isolation… We must create more opportunities and begin a new chapter among the nations of the Americas.” A response to the book, a present from the author to him.
“For change to happen in Cuba, it must come from inside and its political prisoners must be freed, but the US has to lift the embargo to help alleviate the hunger and allow ideas to flow in and out,” says Walter.
While some Cubans admit the US is the cause of their poverty, Walter also questions if it was right for the USA to allow political and human decay to happen in the Americas. The common theme in the book is that of the author’s deceptions and disappointments from the Cuban government not providing sustainability in their country.
“I began to see Cuba through the eyes of my students. They taught me through their stories – how to deal with separation, anxiety, and forgiveness,” says Walter.
He also underscores how today he has learned to survive and imbibed the spirit of joy to live a fuller life no matter what.
Walter Fitzwater, born in Virginia, was raised in Cuba by his mother. He relocated to Florida in 1962. After his education, he ventured to San Francisco in 1972 and joined a theatre commune. The AIDS epidemic in the eighties caused his life to spiral down. He moved to Jacksonville and joined a support group, which allowed him to express his pain and determination to survive the disease. He performed with improvisational theatre which taught him to dig up personal pain from the audience to witness. He has also written two plays about survival, another on the Cuban embargo.
Buy from Amazon: “Cuba, the Island I Treasure“
Company Name: Global Summit House
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