You can read 9 more articles this month
Our Woman in Havana: Reporting from Castro’s Cuba
by Sarah Rainsford
(Oneworld Publications, £18.99)
KNOWN as “Our woman in Havana,” Sarah Rainsford was the BBC’s correspondent in Cuba from 2011-14 and the title of her book feels like a throwback to a time when Britain was a world power that needed to send out foreign correspondents like missionaries — an irony probably not lost on Raul Castro as he did not grant her an interview during her tenure.
She arrives in Cuba as the country is once again having to reboot the revolution. Raul Castro unveils a new economic agenda, opening up markets for citizens to buy and sell houses and cars, set up businesses and travel in and out of the island
Life, according to Rainsford, is not easy. She faces difficulties sending her reports back to Britain, there are government restrictions on her work and self-censorship from local people as she goes around interviewing the Cuban woman and man on the street.
She references Graham Greene’s 1958 novel Our Man in Havana as she explores the last days of the Batista regime, linking it to present-day Cuba. At first, Greene wallowed in the licentiousness of Havana but was quickly revolted by it and went over to the revolution and a lifetime commitment to the socialist state.
And she explores the life of another female correspondent, the American Ruby Hart Phillips who reported from Cuba from 1937 to 1961.
In her interviews, Rainsford does show how Cubans, particularly the younger generation, are looking for a lifestyle similar to what they see on the internet, a challenge facing Castro and his successors.
The Cuban revolution is still alive but the constant assaults on it have led to the rise of new forces — including Christianity — which Rainsford highlights, although she fails to explore the ways in which it is being funded by the US.
Likewise, while interviewing Cubans who want to leave the country — and then do— she does not follow them abroad to see if the American dream has become a reality for them.
Rainsford’s reporting is at its best when she puts aside her own personal prejudices and allows the reader to experience the uniqueness of the history and beauty of Cuba.
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by joining the 501 club.
Just £5 a month gives you the opportunity to win one of 17 prizes, from £25 to the £501 jackpot.
By becoming a 501 Club member you are helping the Morning Star cover its printing, distribution and staff costs — help keep our paper thriving by joining!
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by become a member of the People’s Printing Press Society.
The Morning Star is a readers’ co-operative, which means you can become an owner of the paper too by buying shares in the society.
Shares are £1 each — though unlike capitalist firms, each shareholder has an equal say. Money from shares contributes directly to keep our paper thriving.
Some union branches have taken out shares of over £500 and individuals over £100.
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by donating to the Fighting Fund.
The Morning Star is unique, as a lone socialist voice in a sea of corporate media. We offer a platform for those who would otherwise never be listened to, coverage of stories that would otherwise be buried.
The rich don’t like us, and they don’t advertise with us, so we rely on you, our readers and friends. With a regular donation to our monthly Fighting Fund, we can continue to thumb our noses at the fat cats and tell truth to power.
Donate today and make a regular contribution.