JOHN L. SPIVAK
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In your rowboat you want to be sure that your have -. People old enough to have lived under the Batista dictatorship and neo-colonialism had long forgotten the state of inequality among humans of different economic and racial status. The young had never been taught that they must bow down before "superiors. And they all take pride in their personal appearance, in corporal cleanliness and clean clothing.
In my next visit to the publishing house, I was offered a contract to publish "Yankee Sandinistas" in Spanish. That was good news but that wasn't all. I reported what I was learning from the double agents and they asked me to write a book about them myself. I was elated. It was time for me to take a flight to Mexico. Depending on what occurred in El Salvador, I might have time to gather more interviews and other material for the double agents book upon returning to Cuba, en route to Denmark.
I waited about two months in Mexico before receiving word to enter El Salvador. The most productive and interesting activity I engaged in while waiting was writing some articles for the English language weekly magazine, Mexican Review, published by the prestigious left-wing daily newspaper, "La Jornada.
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I had known Jane Fonda in the Los Angeles anti-war movement, and had interviewed her for "Playboy" magazine 3. I had also met Burt Lancaster in connection with the black liberation movement. He was first choice to play the American author, Ambrose Bierce, who, at age 72, was killed fighting with Mexican revolutionaries, in As it turned out, no company would insure Lancaster, due to his age and health, so Gregory Peck got the role.
This delay, and the fact that Mexican film workers struck, hindered me in doing the piece as I was called to come into El Salvador. My first contact with the guerrillas took place smack-dab in front of a major military base in the capital city.
She stepped off a public bus wearing smart clothing. Young, attractive, she appeared to be a middle class woman. We strolled across the street from the heavily guarded, walled-in base. I discovered his hand just in time. The Yankees had stepped up their aggressive support of the puppet regime. There were more pressing needs than the book project, which would take one or two years before publication. They asked me to help with cultural solidarity work in Denmark. I was not enthused but agreed to do one specific project upon my return.
Now that I would not be traveling with them, the next several months were open.
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I decided to return to Cuba and complete interviewing and gathering material for the double agent book. Some of the coded information from both sides were made available. Shortly before I was to return to Denmark, where I would write the book, the publishing house and I signed the book contract, and they extended yet another exciting offer.
A job as a "foreign technician," performing editing and writing functions. The terms of both contracts were generous. I would be paid 12 pesos per page delivered. This resulted in an average wage for about 18 months. I would be paid pesos monthly as a contracted worker, half again the average wage and equivalent to what professional Cuban editors make. I would also be provided with an apartment where Cubans live, a ration food and clothing card, which all Cubans have, and other benefits of socialism, such as free medical care.
Grethe could live with me and our flight to and fro would be paid for.
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It was an offer of a lifetime. Just before leaving for Denmark, I heard Pablo's tale of coming to Cuba and staying. His story coincided with some of my own feelings and experiences. One difference, however, was that his mother was the first American artist to break the blockade by conducting a musical tour of Cuba. He arrived at the National School of Arts, in , at age The school was built on the remains of the plush Havana Country Club, so "exclusive" that the state dictator had been prohibited entrance.
Batista was too dark skinned. People from Spain and the United States have always told them what to do. They married young. I saw her perform a minute monologue before a large audience. It was enthralling to follow the various characters she played.
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How can a human being remember so many words? To readers not familiar with Cuba from inside what I here cite from Pablo may sound like false serendipity.
My own later experiences over many years, however, confirm the essence. A police car comes by and I never think of them as pigs, as repressors like I did in the United States. They are our friends, our neighbors, our protectors. There's almost no crime 4. The few murders are usually crimes of passion. I am free from drugged-crazed people, child pornography, racism and nazism. There is total freedom of religion.
I do the work I want. And I listen to US propaganda beamed over radio if I want a laugh. Cuba has ten million people cultivating internationalist feelings. So, everybody here understands me when I play in a concert.
Back in Denmark, I began writing the manuscript. Grethe and I were not doing so well as a couple. She decided not to live with me in Cuba but would come for extended visits. I tried to get some media interest in the subject. She contacted me. The CIA was mute, as they always are, and there was no gain seen in telling the truth in government or congress.
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