Armando Choy, Gustavo Chui, Moises Sio Wong. 2005. Our History Is Still Being Written: The Story of Three Chinese-Cuban Generals in the Cuban Revolution. New York: Pathfinder Press. 216 pp. ISBN: 0-87348-978-0.
Like other volumes from the socialist press Pathfinder, this book highlights the struggles and accomplishments of the 1959 Cuban Revolution, but through the unique lens of three Chinese-Cuban generals. President of the press and editor of New International Mary-Alice Waters and her associates conducted interviews with the generals, Armando Choy Rodriguez, Gustavo Chui Beltran, and Moises Sio Wong, over a period of four years. The men discuss their roles in the revolution, their participation in international military, medical, and educational missions, and their continued involvement with Cuban government initiatives today.
In Part I the generals describe their own backgrounds and provide a short history of the Chinese in Cuba. While Chinese were imported as contract workers throughout the post-abolition Caribbean, in Cuba, where slavery did not end until 1886, they labored alongside African slaves for the duration of the coolie trade (1847 to 1874). Like slaves, Chinese resisted the deception and coercion of the recruitment system and the harsh conditions on Cuban sugar plantations through suicide, flight, rebellion, and legal challenge. In the hope of being released from their bondage, some Chinese joined slaves in the struggles for independence from Spain beginning in 1868. A battalion of five hundred Chinese fought under the command of General Maximo Gomez in the 1874 battle of Las Guasimas. Chinese also gained recognition for their auxiliary roles in providing provisions and gathering information about Spanish troops. Sio Wong's father, who arrived in Cuba in 1895, contributed supplies from his store to a group of rebels passing through Matanzas. Sio Wong explains how the Spanish inability to distinguish between Chinese helped the independence cause: "If anyone questioned them, they'd just say, 'I no understand, I no understand.'" (p. 61). Rather than being descended from indentured laborers, the generals are the sons of later free Chinese migrants. However, they contextualize their individual life stories within a larger narrative of Chinese coolie history and Cuban revolutionary history, thereby following a Cuban tradition of directly linking the independence wars of 1868 to 1898, the Cuban Revolution of 1959, and internationalist missions today.
In 1952 U.S.-backed Fulgencio Batista seized government power through a military coup, setting off political protests among all sectors of society. Although from different regional and class backgrounds, Choy, Chui, and Sio Wong became part of a generation of Cuban youth who identified with the 26 of July Movement (inspired by Fidel Castro's...
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