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Cuban Revolution in AmericaHavana and the Making of a United States Left, 1968-1992$

Teishan A. Latner

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781469635460

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469635460.001.0001

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(p.xi) Acknowledgments

(p.xi) Acknowledgments

Cuban Revolution in America

Teishan A. Latner

University of North Carolina Press

Many debts were accumulated in the writing of this book. In Cuba, I was aided in innumerable ways by the kindness and generosity of friends, colleagues, and strangers, who opened their homes, shared meals, and agreed to be interviewed. I especially thank René Tamayo, who was instrumental in locating key contacts and setting up interviews. Nehanda Abiodun, patron saint to a legion of foreign students and academics, and Charlie Hill, the longest remaining U.S. political exile in Cuba, both provided key insights into my topic. My gratitude also goes to Roberto Zurbano and Tomás Fernández Robaina for sharing their perspectives, as well as to the staff at the Instituto Cubano de Amistad con los Pueblos (ICAP), especially Vladimir Falcón, Orlaida Cabrera, Hugo Govín, and José Estévez Hernández. Friends such as Pavel Fuentes Contreras and Jessica Piedra Díaz helped interpret the complex realities of daily life in Cuba, and Jesús Arboleya, Rafael Betancourt, William Potts, Conner Gorry, and Antonio Pérez were interlocutors at key moments. Given the sensitive nature of some of my research, I also thank all those in Havana and its vicinities who spoke to me off the record or on condition of anonymity. Finally, I acknowledge Assata Shakur, whose comments during a brief conversation many years ago provided one of the early sparks that compelled me to take up this research.

At the University of North Carolina Press, I had the good fortune to work with Brandon Proia, who guided the manuscript through the long process of review and revision with enthusiasm and encouragement, and the press’s excellent production team. Many thanks as well to Heather Ann Thompson and Rhonda Y. Williams, editors of the Justice, Power, and Politics book series, for their interest in the project. Two anonymous reviewers provided thoughtful critiques of the manuscript at various stages, greatly improving it.

Some of the ideas and arguments that appear in this book were first tested in professional forums. The Center for Black Studies Research at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where I was a Research Associate as I was completing the manuscript, provided crucial support and a forum for intellectual growth, and I am indebted to director Diane Fujino for her mentorship and (p.xii) comments on my work; to Jonathan Gómez for his insights, and to the amazing students in the Transformative Pedagogy Project for their commitment and brilliance. At New York University’s Center for the United States and the Cold War, where I was a Postdoctoral Fellow during a key phase of research and revision, I gratefully acknowledge the support of then-director Timothy Naftali. I also appreciate Ana María Dopico and Ada Ferrer for their comments to an early version of chapter 5, and the staff of the Tamiment Library, especially Michael Koncewicz. My thanks also to Sowande’ Mustakeem and her students at Washington University in St. Louis, as well as the Department of History and African & African American Studies Program there for giving me the opportunity to present my work.

Portions of this research were also presented on panels at meetings of the American Historical Association, the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations, the Organization of American Historians, the American Studies Association, the Pacific Coast Branch of the American Historical Association, and the UC-Cuba Academic Initiative, and I especially appreciate the comments of Michael Allen, Anita Casavantes Bradford, Robin Derby, David Farber, Ada Ferrer, Van Gosse, Lillian Guerra, Ivette N. Hernandez-Torres, and Martin Klimke.

Several colleagues generously took the time to critique sections of the manuscript, including Dan Berger, Barry Carr, Anita Casavantes Bradford, Raúl A. Fernández, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, John Gronbeck-Tedesco, Sara Julia Kozameh, Ben V. Olguín, Marc D. Perry, Rubén G. Rumbaut, Sarah J. Seidman, Devyn Spence-Benson, James Shrader, Henry Louis Taylor, Jasmin A. Young, and Mark Redondo Villegas. An earlier version of chapter 3 was published as an article by Diplomatic History, and I am grateful to Devyn Spence-Benson, Van Gosse, and Emily Rosenberg for their comments to that manuscript, and to Komozi Woodard and Sean Malloy for their comments to a manuscript derived from chapter 5. Former participants of the Venceremos Brigade and Antonio Maceo Brigade generously reviewed chapters or agreed to be interviewed, and I gratefully acknowledge Raul Alzaga, Rafael Betancourt, Eduardo Santana Castellon, Dennis Duncanwood, Mariana Gaston, Albor Ruíz, Rubén G. Rumbaut, Tony Ryan, Louis Segal, and Mirén Uriarte. Charles McKelvey, Amberly Alene Ellis, Kaeten Mistry, and Jay Davis also provided assistance or sounding boards at key times for topics related to the study of Cuba.

I am especially grateful to Winston A. James, my esteemed committee chair and adviser at the University of California, Irvine, for his unflagging support at every stage. Sohail Daulatzai was an invaluable mentor, and Jon Wiener (p.xiii) provided valuable feedback. My affiliation with the UC-Cuba Academic Initiative provided key support for my work on Cuba within the University of California system, and I owe a tremendous debt to then-director Raúl A. Fernández.

Numerous faculty in UC Irvine’s Department of History aided me in important ways, and I especially acknowledge Sharon Block, Alice Fahs, Alex Borucki, Mark LeVine, Jessica Millward, and Rachel O’Toole, as well as Laura Mitchell, department chair for much of my time there. Beyond the Department of History, I am grateful to Glen Mimura for his support from within the School of Humanities. I likewise owe a debt of gratitude to UC Irvine’s Program in African American Studies, which offered me five years of teaching assistantships, profoundly impacting my research and teaching. I especially thank Bridget Cooks, Jared Sexton, and Tiffany Willoughby-Herard for their support, and Frank Wilderson for sharing his research with me. I thank also the legion of UC Irvine graduate students with whom I alternately debated, relied upon, commiserated, and laughed with throughout the journey of doctoral work, especially Mark Redondo Villegas, Daniel McClure, Raul Pérez, Danielle Vigneaux, and Martha Arguello. My interest in Cuba first took scholarly form at Temple University, and I thank David Farber, who supervised an MA thesis, and Harvey Neptune and Kenneth L. Kusmer for their support there.

Outside UC Irvine, others did much to aid this research. K. Wayne Yang was an invaluable mentor, offering writing critiques and hosting dinners for stray neighborhood graduate students. Mark A. Sanders provided introductions to two key contacts in Cuba. Sowande’ Mustakeem was an unflagging source of advice and encouragement, and Ruth Reitan generously shared her knowledge and key resources. Deep appreciation also goes to Luis Esparza and Antonio Prieto-Stambaugh, friends and intellectuals extraordinaire, who hosted a two-month writing retreat, complete with homegrown coffee, at their home outside Xalapa, Mexico, during my final months of dissertating.

I am also indebted to the assistance of numerous archives and libraries. The staff at the FBI’s Record/Information Dissemination Section handled my Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests with professionalism. While my FOIA requests to the CIA usually resulted in some variant of the dreaded “we can neither confirm nor deny …,” the agency ultimately provided a small number of valuable materials for which I am grateful. The staff of several archives provided helpful assistance, and I acknowledge Rosa Monzon-Alvarez and Esperanza de Varona at the Cuban Heritage Collection at the University of Miami; Kathryn DeGraff at DePaul University’s Special (p.xiv) Collections; Azalea Camacho at the Special Collections & Archives at California State University, Los Angeles; and the staff at the Lourdes Casal Library at the Center for Cuban Studies in New York. Several people also lent materials from their personal archives, including Dennis Duncanwood, Iraida H. López, Timothy Naftali, and Rubén G. Rumbaut. For providing and licensing images, I gratefully acknowledge Raúl Alzaga; George Cohen; Lincoln Cushing; Nils Grossien and the Jerry Berndt Estate; the Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives; University Archives & Special Collections at the Joseph P. Healey Library, University of Massachusetts Boston; and the Buffalo News.

I never could have completed this research without the financial support of several institutions. A research grant from the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations allowed me to make an initial research trip to Cuba in 2012. At UC Irvine, grants from the International Center for Writing and Translation, the Humanities Center, the Center for Citizen Peacebuilding, and the Department of History supported research trips to Havana, Miami, Chicago, College Park, New York, Philadelphia, and Berkeley. The UC Irvine Office of the Chancellor awarded me a dissertation completion fellowship in my final year, permitting me the unaccustomed freedom of six months of unfettered writing time. During two crucial years after my graduate-school career, postdoctoral research positions at New York University’s Center for the United States and the Cold War and the Center for Black Studies Research at the University of California, Santa Barbara provided key financial support.

Thomas Jefferson University has offered a supportive and collegial professional home, and I gratefully acknowledge Barbara Kimmelman, Valerie Hanson, Katharine Jones, Tom Schrand, David Rogers, Marcella L. McCoy-Deh, Evan Laine, Ryan Long, Stacey Van Dahm, Marilisa Navarro, and the Office of the Provost for their support as I finished the manuscript.

Finally, I am grateful to my parents, Laurie and Joel Latner, whose love and support helped me keep my feet on the path, and to whom this book is dedicated.