Our History is Still Being Written: The Story of Three Chinese-Cuban Generals in the Cuban Revolution
By: Barbara Greenway
All serious readers, whether scholarly or general interest,
place a special value on first hand accounts of historical events. Memoirs, autobiographies, interviews of
“regular people” who find themselves immersed in historic times bring that
history to life as no author can. This
is why the new book Our History Is Still Being Written has such
an important role to play in modern Chinese history.
The book is a series of interviews
with three Cuban generals of Chinese descent who as young rebels in
became heroic fighters in the battle to overthrow the despised Batista
regime. In the almost fifty years since,
they have each played invaluable roles in the Cuban military in international
missions, each rising to the rank of general.
They speak quite eloquently of the
days of racial discrimination. Armando
Choy, one of the interviewees explained his experience as a youth trying to go
to a dance. “When my friend and the girl
tried to get in, they were turned away because they were Chinese. It was for whites only! That act of discrimination convinced me of
the injustice prevailing in Cuba
before the triumph of the revolution.”
The generals also give a vivid
picture of life for Chinese immigrants dating back to the 1800s, when many came
as indentured servants. The detailed
descriptions bring to life both the hardships and the contributions of the
Chinese who settled in Cuba. Chinese fighters fought in Cuba,
for example, in the war for independence against Spain
in the 1860s and 1870s.
But perhaps the most fascinating of
the discussions in the interviews conducted are the first hand accounts of the
role of revolutionary Cubans in international actions from Angola
to Nicaragua to
today. These generals are socialists and
partisans of the socialist revolution in Cuba. They defend Cuba’s
actions within its own borders and its internationalist missions around the
They speak proudly of their
relationships with Fidel and Raul Castro and their work with Che Guevera. In a discussion of the quality of
leadership, Moises Sio Wong
explained, “In our army the leader is an
example. This was always a
characteristic of Che, who was incapable of giving an order he himself was not
prepared to carry out. And it’s equally
true of Raul and Fidel.”
Today each man still plays a
critical role in Cuba. Although in their 70s, their positions of
responsibility keep them young and busy.
Armando Choy heads up the massive
project to clean up the polluted Havana
Bay and leads the modernization of
the Port of Havana.
Sio Wong is the president of the
National Institute of State Reserves that involves both military defense and
rapid response in the area of natural disasters.
Gustavo Chui is head of the Association of Combatants of the
Cuban Revolution, an organization of more than 300,000 members that is
responsible for the political education program found in schools and
communities around Cuba.
One additional noteworthy aspect of
the book is the wonderful photo signature.
A variety of maps, sketches, and previously unavailable photographs help
the reader visually understand the times described by the generals. Archival photos display everything from mass
meetings in Havana’s Chinatown
in 1960 to Cuban doctors working among the Venezuelan poor in 1999.
Reading this book gives the reader
a glimpse of life in Cuba
rarely visible in the United States
today. And it tells a previously untold
story---the Chinese of Cuba yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
Our History is Still Being Written: The Story of Three
Chinese-Cuban Generals in the Cuban Revolution.