Tag Archives: #Cuba

Book Club Questions

Do you and your friends have a book club? Here are some questions from Goodreads.com for you to discuss after reading The Last Honest Man in Havana:

1) Who was your favourite character? Why?

2) If you were drafted to fight in a foreign war, what would you do?

3) Why do you think the characters call older people Señor and Señora (Mr. and Mrs.) instead of Compañero and Compañera (Comrade)?

4) When Señora Vásquez finds someone to rent Elena’s apartment, why doesn’t Elena ask questions about this person’s source of income?

5) Some of Elena’s decisions may seem controversial. In what scene would you have acted differently?

6) If you were Rafael, how would you have reacted to Mirlay during the last visit to her office?

7) Do you feel as if this book has changed your views on Cuba? Why?

8) How much of a person’s character would you say is shaped by the time and place in which he or she lives?

9) Do you believe that Elena was justified in her disgust of tourists?

10) How do you think cronyism and corruption has affected Cuba?

11) What does freedom mean to you?

12) Between 1980 and 2013, 1,144,000 Cubans have immigrated to the United States alone. If you lived in Cuba today do you think you would stay or try to leave?

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Real Estate in Cuba: Location, Location and Restitution!

I love the idea of having a place in Cuba. Somewhere we could retire. Maybe do a restoration on a beautiful old place that’s falling down.

How about this one?

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It’s just 850,000 CUC!

The laws surrounding real estate have changed drastically in the last few years. In The Last Honest Man in Havana, which is set between the late 80s and the early 90s, you couldn’t buy, sell or rent property legally. If you left the country, you walked away from everything. One couple in our family lost three apartments they inherited when they left. Maybe when things open up in Cuba, they can try to get compensation for the nationalization of their property.

And this is the main reason I’d never buy anything down there.

Whoever is selling you the property was probably not the original owner. I mean, the pre-revolutionary owner. And once things get turned around in Cuba, it’s likely that the descendants of that person will come back for restitution. I saw this happening first hand in the Czech Republic in the mid-nineties. Many families were in court fighting for compensation or trying to get properties back.

My husband’s step-mother sold her house to a Chinese national quite recently. He set his Cuban girlfriend up there. For now he’s okay. He won’t get squatters when he’s not around and the house was in fantastic condition when it sold so he won’t be scrambling around for hard-to-resource renovation materials.

But my step-mother-in-law didn’t move there until 1991. She got it in a permuta for two beautiful apartments in Vedado. One was a luxury penthouse apartment, complete with service elevator, that belonged to her father. The other belonged to my father-in-law.

 If things change, this Chinese businessman, may find his investment suddenly costs him quite a bit more. That will depend on the laws, the determination of the original owners or their descendants and their financial situations – because it will cost them too.

 

 

 

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Cuban Philately Providing Inspiration!

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If you’re from Cuba, you might remember that collecting stamps was really big there–especially in the 1970s. My husband collected a lot of stamps as a child and, of course, his mother never threw them out. A few years ago he brought them home to Canada and we actually have hundreds of groovy stamps from the 70s, like this one of Che above.

In my novel, The Last Honest Man in Havana, my character Rafael likes to doodle Che. Guess where I got that idea?

Since kids didn’t have many toys at that time – and stamps were cheap – I guess Fidel thought it would keep them busy.

The stamps cover so much history in Cuba and having a good look at them is actually quite educational! I like the baseball stamps:

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And then others are a little more eye-opening – celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Lenin’s death and the 30th Anniversary of winning the war against Fascism:Scan 2015-8-30 0029

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Some of them are cute and colourful:

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I think Camilo’s stamp would make a cool poster.

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I know nothing about stamps and have no idea if any of these are worth anything. Many are loose, in an envelope, and the others are glued into the old books. I’ve only scanned in some of the loose ones. A friend of mine has suggested I have the collection appraised. I had actually been cutting them up and using them in collages – oh dear!

But, regardless of their market value, I consider these tiny works of art a valuable piece of my husband’s history. They also provided me with some great insight into the mindset of the era.

If you would like to share any information about these stamps with me, please feel free!

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Published!

The Last Honest Man in Havana front KINDLE-1

 

Today was a big day! After working on this project for many years, The Last Honest Man in Havana is now available for purchase on Amazon.com. Here it is:http://www.amazon.com/dp/B014JZEQSI! Right now it is available to read on Kindle, but next week the print copies will be ready to order.

If you are at all interested in Cuba, I think you will enjoy reading this novel.

I would love to hear from you after you’ve read it!

 

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