Havana-Merida-Chicago Reviews | AMORALESPITA.COM

Havana-Merida-Chicago Reviews

What the media is saying:

“Over the past three years, I have had the pleasure of working with Professor Antonio Morales-Pita. During that time he has been one of the most effective faculty members at DePaul – and indeed anywhere in Chicago – in working with the news media. His incredible personal story and professional experience as a leading economist for the Castro government give him a unique perspective on many aspects of economic activity. His energetic and positive attitude and ability to articulate complex ideas in laymen’s terms also has made him a valued resource for many members of Chicago’s news media – both Spanish and English language. Since the publication of his book “Havana-Merida-Chicago” in 2006, Professor Morales-Pita conducted frequent television interviews on Telemundo, Univisión, WCIU and WEME and MEGATV (Miami). Besides writing in newspapers, his expertise has been used in international papers, such as Pravda (of the Slovakian Republic), as well as El Nuevo Herald (Miami) and the Houston Chronicle. ”

–John Holden, Director of Media Relations, DePaul University

“The book “Havana-Mérida-Chicago” is a highly inspirational memoir to our Hispanic population because it shows the commitment of a Cuban immigrant in the pursuit of success in academia and continuous and ceaseless search for freedom. The author is an example of a Hispanic, whose main objective is to enhance educational horizons of generations of Cubans, Mexicans and Americans during more than 40 years. The book shows how parents (regardless of their educational level) can become role models in education for their children. Amid deep political changes in Cuba, the former Soviet Union and Mexico, the memoir narrates the author’s saga to attain freedom. After publishing the first edition of the book, the author has increased his attention toward the Hispanic community in Chicago. During this year 2007 in our weekly newspaper, Dr. Morales has published 24 articles about economic, and political issues, as well as topics related to Cuba.”

–Jorge Mederos, Editor in Chief, La Raza weekly newspaper, Chicago, IL, the Hispanic newspaper with the largest circulation in Chicago and Chicagoland.

“Havana-Merida-Chicago shows the role of tenacity in the pursuit of freedom. Morales-Pita intertwines his saga to reach the top of the academic ladder with love for his family, country, and vocation: to learn as much as possible, to deliver that knowledge to generations of students from five countries. A legitimate and lasting love story in the context of political, social, and religious environments in Cuba, Great Britain, Ukraine, Mexico and the United States of America. A must read for people coming from all walks of life.”

–(2008) Eugenio Yáñez, PhD, editor, Cubanalisis-The Think-Tank


What academia is saying:

“This is a fascinating, compelling, fast-paced autobiography. It tells the poignant story of a prominent Cuban economist’s intellectual, emotional, and physical journey from the tyranny of Castro’s Cuba to Mexico and then the United States. But the book is more than just a personal story: It is a metaphor for the power of freedom and the human spirit that eventually brings demise to repressive rule.”

–Stanley L. Brue, Professor of Economics, Pacific Lutheran University, co-author of the book “Economics” – the most widely used textbook of introductory economics in the U.S. (approximately 25% of the market share).

September 14, 2006

“I have recently finished reading your book “Havana-Merida-Chicago” (A journey to freedom), and I must tell you that I find it particularly inspiring and useful to individuals struggling to succeed in their studies, especially at high school and college levels. As Dean of St. Augustine College since its creation back in 1980, I have been dealing with socially and economically challenged minority students who for the most part are first generation college students.

Reading your book made me realize the importance of your story as one of the best examples to be followed not only by our non-traditional student population, but also by all students on their way to higher education commitments. However, the fundamental message of this book goes beyond the obvious impact which may have in inspiring students in the pursuit of education. The book actually conveys a strong message by showing the importance of not compromising principles in the pursuit of a person’s goals in life.”

–Dr. Bruno Bondavalli, Dean of Academic Affairs, St. Augustine College, Chicago

September 17, 2006

“Habana-Merida-Chicago: A Journey to Freedom by Antonio Morales-Pita, Ph.D., is an inspiring story. It is inspiring to academics around the world who can become complacent about their freedom to seek the truth. It is inspiring to all who might take personal freedoms for granted. It is inspiring for young people who may readily believe a person has little hope to follow a dream.

Dr. Morales-Pita’s autobiography is a charming and engrossing saga. The story gives the author’s account of an academic career and personal life spanning decades and continents. It is a story told with the reserve of a teacher and the care of a researcher, but with the passion of a soul seeking freedom. The reader is swept along on the journey which led a youth from Cuba to a home for an experienced professor in Chicago.

It is said that each individual’s life is a unique story which would be of interest to a certain audience if properly told. Antonio Morales-Pita’s story is properly told. It will be of interest to any, and all, who read the saga. In a world fraught with uncertainties, worries, and dangers, this book gives inspiration and hope to those who read it. “

Patrick J. Litzinger, Ph.D.,Department Head, Finance & Economics and Professor of Economics Robert Morris University, Moon Township, PA

September 21, 2006

“Those of us who have had the good fortune to know Antonio Morales-Pita and call him a friend will recognize him instantly in one scene from his memoir, Habana – Merida – Chicago: A Journey to Freedom. As he prepares to leave Britain and his lover, she reaches out and says to him, “Antonio, you are so happy when you are happy, and so sad when you are sad.” Very few of us engage the world around us with such energy and such tenacity. His students can attest to the unbounded enthusiasm and commitment he brings to the classroom. Over the years, many of us have heard his stories of life in Cuba. Now, in this volume, he brings all of these stories together in a connected narrative, the story of a journey that would have discouraged most and exhausted the rest. But unlike most exile stories, this one is driven neither by nostalgia, nor by rancor. Here there are no knocks on the door in the middle of the night, no tales of prison, no stories of vengeance. Instead, this is the sorrowful account of an honest man for whom the Cuban regime, in the end, had no use. Plucked from a modest background to become the leading operations researcher in the Cuban sugar industry, recipient of two doctorates from Kiev (all without ever joining the Cuban Communist Party), Antonio Morales-Pita gave his all to a revolution and a leader he believed in. His disillusionment came not at the end of a policeman’s club, but as the result of a long, slow sapping of the will, the result of morale-breaking bureaucratic insanity that privileges organizational loyalty over competence. In Cuba, in Yucatan, and now in Chicago, we see the portrait of a man driven above all by love: love of his work, love for the chance to put his knowledge and talents to work, and love for his life’s grand amour, Gladys. Shame on any revolution that wastes the talent, commitment, and passion of a man like Antonio Morales-Pita.”

–Michael McIntyre, Ph.D. Associate Professor and Director,International Studies Program

September 28, 2006

“In this autobiography of a life of courage and love, we get to share in the compelling story of a family’s struggles in Cuba and flight to freedom. Personal strength abounds in the narrative, and Dr. Morales-Pita sets out what lengths he and his beloved wife Gladys were willing to go to share in the liberty of America. Personal strength can do much, but the tale makes clear that we cannot understate the awesome power that faith in God brings the human soul in facing what appear to be insurmountable obstacles. Upon entering U.S. airspace, holding a statue of the Virgin that played such a key role in the final miracle of their journey, we hear “At last we are free! God bless America”. Indeed. “

–Michael S. Miller, Chairman and Associate Professor of Economics, DePaul University, Chicago, Illinois.

September 26, 2006

“Antonio Morales-Pita has written a stimulating and moving autobiography. While the title suggests a journey, the book covers a lot more, as it encompasses a wrenching intellectual and spiritual journey by Dr. Morales-Pita, one of the first Cubans to earn a doctorate in Economics. Beginning with his boyhood in Batista’s Cuba, he describes his fervent support for Castro’s revolution and his efforts to use his economic training to improve the economic well-being of his fellow citizens. His gradual disillusionment with the system and his intellectual struggles to deal with his sense of betrayal are chronicled with painful honesty. The book is also an adventure story, as it depicts the author’s efforts to escape from Cuba; a love story; and a story of religious awakening. American readers will also find fascinating snapshots of life in Cuba and in Mexico.”

–Dr. Animesh Ghoshal, Professor of International Economics, DePaul University

June 7, 2006

“Until I read your book I had no idea of the life long struggle for achievement your life has been. As Director of IT and adjunct faculty at an institution whose mission it is to provide a means for minority students to succeed in the America Education System, I find your book particularly inspiring. As you well know in our institution we deal with socially and economically challenged minority students who for the most part are first generation college students. The majority come from a non-educational background full of obstacles and reasons for their lack of discipline and education and success. Reading your book made me think that your story should be an example and inspiration to our students. If someone born in a communist oppressed country without all the resources that a country as the United States provides can find a way to persist, to dream, and to succeed, then we here in a privileged situation have no reason not to. Even though I do have an educational background in my family and have had my measure of success I personally realize I can do more, I can dream more, I can succeed further.”

–Carlos Villavicencio • Director of IT • St. Augustine College, Chicago

August 4, 2006 – “Habana-Merida-Chicago (A journey to freedom)”

Each migration in the world is an individual story. Each defection from Cuba is also a very personal story. This memoir of Antonio Morales-Pita is the story of his education as an economist, of his professional career, of his disillusionment with the Cuban political situation and of the harrowing journey to the United States via Mexico. In the U.S., all Cuban immigrants are often lumped together in people’s minds, perhaps only distinguishing those who came right after the revolution and the thousands who came later in the 1980 Mariel boatlift. This is not the tale of a privileged family who fled to Miami after the revolution, but of someone who benefited from and worked within the Cuban system trying to contribute to his country. His present bitterness is no doubt equivalent to the passion he brought to his work there. The desperate situation for even the basics of life, especially after the withdrawal of Soviet support, and the seeming total disregard, even sabotage, of his efforts to help plan for more successful sugar harvesting convinced him that he had to leave.

The tale is compelling. Some vignettes such as his first bus trip in the U.S. as a teen-aged visitor, the struggle to find food in the “special period” as the economy collapsed, or scene at the airport as Antonio and his wife try to flee Mexico are vivid- almost cinematic. Perhaps only other academics can fully appreciate the Kafka-esque complications of his doctoral degree process and the working situation at the university. Of course, it is really the story of two people. What comes across as strongly as the political struggle and is perhaps the most inspiring aspect of the book is the story of a marriage — mutual affection, support, respect and deep love that made survival possible. Clearly, without his wife Gladys, Antonio might never have been able to move forward in his life- might not even have lived. Their partnership is remarkable as well as their courage and energy. His respect and love for her are shining throughout. This memoir is an interesting read regardless of one’s view of Cuba. For some it will be confirmation of their ideas, for others an indication of how complicated it is to evaluate what happened in Cuba.”

–Margaret Power, Reference Librarian DePaul University.

September 27, 2006

Amazing story. Tremendous insight into the daily lives of a person in Cuba. This is the unknown that became known. Most of it is imaginable, but some of it is unimaginable. The right to choose to express one’s spirituality is sacred – that came out in the book. I wonder if some of the people who I’ve met and claim atheism would find it bearable to live in a place like Cuba where there was nothing to push against. The contrast of what our country is and what our country provides us with in terms of expression was made completely clear. Another important point is that we understand life in relation to our experience. In other words, everything is relative – relative to our experience and to our exposure. Governments, all governments, are quite interesting in the way they spin their version of what is and what is not. This book taught me the effects of government without any protection, legal and otherwise, against government itself.

The Romance. The romance touched me. In fact, it was the first thing that touched me. His expression of love to Gladys is just something for the time. It reminds me of the people I know.

Antonio’s humanity shines through his demonstrations of honesty. He is completely human – self reflective, meaning making, grateful, emotional, and full of hope. He is another example of the fact that a person pressed to earth will rise again. That’s a take on “truth pressed to earth…” It’s a beautiful book. The fact that he has been in the U.S. for 10 years, he’s 66 years old, tells the reader who has the pleasure of reading the book an important lesson I learned a while ago in Indonesia : great dreams, great hopes must be pursued with great patience and great persistence, but to put a due date where either the dream is realized or not realized and then to abandon it is to set constraints and to build bars around our soul, the very part of us that requires dreams and hopes, and in effect court depression and anxiety. We must dream, even if that dream is not exactly reachable, but we must dream. Dreams keep us moving forward – they are what we work towards and work for in the special place in our mind that requires targets for our skills, our passions and our knowledge. Dreams are the destinations that move us to build roads and bridges that are walked and crossed with the people we love and the people we meet in life. Who would have thought that Americans would be learning about what they have and what they should treasure by a gentleman from Cuba?

Lastly, I want to say that Dr. Morales-Pita did not leave his roots in Cuba. He did not. Dr. Morales-Pita removed his roots from unfertile soil and found another place where life is nourished and appreciated – this is where he re-replanted his roots. Mexico, Britain, and Kiev were nurseries which introduced his roots to that life sustaining element called Freedom. Today, he has brought his roots and planted them in a place that you and I and he call home. We’re enriched because he remained the gardener of his own Plumeria tree. His tree has made the air we breathe a little fresher and much more aromatic. That’s the lesson his life gives us. This is very much in our Christian tradition. Christ told us to share your friendship, your life, your dreams, your sweat and your time with a person and if they don’t accept, as God and Christ have already approved us and accepts us, then go to the door and shake the sand from your sandals and leave. Dr. Morales-Pita is a patriot – today, he found a country that appreciates his Patriotism. This story reminds me of a little shy Greek kid who was introduced to some fertile soil on an island and did the same thing.

–Dr. Dean Papadopoulous, Professor of English, Northern Marianas College, Saipan, M

What Outstanding Hispanic Leaders are saying:

September 27, 2006
Dr. Antonio Morales lives and works in Chicago. Having grown up in Cuba, he was a product of the Revolution. He has written an important book about his life in Cuba, why he became disenchanted with his lot over there, and why he decided to come to the United States. More than anything, Antonio Morales is driven by his quest to make things better for the human condition. He wants to solve urgent problems. He seeks to improve the quality of his life but only in harmony with collective efforts that benefit the plight of the poor. That was what made the Revolution so seductive and attractive and the dictatorial, micro-management so repelling and repulsive.
In spite of the familiar theme, his is not a typical story. It is a story that is worth reading and, more importantly, one that is worth sharing. Educators will find multiple pedagogically sound reasons for using the exciting story of this immigrant as a resource in their classrooms. Morales’ memoir will resonate well with students interested in current events that are shared with passion, eloquence and conviction in the search for truth. Readers will marvel at how the author used his wit to negotiate his way from his beloved Cuba to Mexico and finally to Chicago in his quest for freedom!
It is a significant but sad reality that Latinos are absent from the historical narratives taught to millions of students in our schools. There is compelling evidence of a serious information gap in the public educational systems of our society. There is a need for literature that traces the experience of the diverse groups under the Latino/Hispanic label. The good news is that Dr. Antonio Morales has written a book that helps to close that gap.
Habana-Merida-Chicago inspires hope and courage, while it informs us of the unique situations and conditions by which immigrants have come to this country. Students of history need to become familiar with Antonio Morales’s Cuba. His book is worth reading. It can serve as a template for anyone stuck in a stifling relationship riddled with contradictions, betrayal and hypocrisy. It is easy to identify with our hero who comes to the USA for the very purposes that our own lore tells us why this country was established in the first place.
All that Antonio Morales wanted was to study and become a servant leader through his profession. He refused to become a member of the Communist Party. He put politics aside, making the people of Cuba his priority. Antonio thrived and traveled abroad where he earned degrees and learned several languages. Above all else he was mission-driven to become the best Economist to help the sugar cane producers yield the best harvest year after year. Dr. Morales became an award-winning professor at the University of Havana and published books. Then it happened. Something went terribly wrong. He was betrayed. He became disillusioned. His grudge was not with Cuba but with Fidel. Leaving his beloved homeland becomes his obsession and is the central theme of this book.
He describes in magnificent but tragic details his personal quest to leverage every talent developed under the Revolution for the benefit of average Cubans and in harmony with the public rhetoric of the President, only to be squashed by a dictatorial regime. His struggle to leave Havana is one that all of us have to deal with when we find ourselves in relationships where we experience betrayal.
This is a love story between a man and his country that went sour. Our hero is seduced by the promises of a revolutionary process that works in preparing him for greater service. Antonio is gifted in his ability to do math and think logically. His mom was a believer in reading and championed education as the way to success. To go from poverty to the professions Antonio had to cross a bridge called education. He did. The opportunities in Cuba, during the Cold War, allowed him to do that and to do it well.
Readers rejoice. The book is not a compilation of propagandistic, anti-Castro leaflets masquerading as literature. It is not about a member of an elite group that was overthrown by a Socialist Revolution. He does not lament about how much his family had before Castro and how much they lost because of him. That important story has been told again and again.
This story is new! It is exciting to read and easy to follow. It is a beautifully written work by a very intelligent and gifted story teller, who as a child of the revolution wanted to have a role in transforming his society. The author is a modest man who wants to confront power with truth. He rejects mediocrity. He loves freedom and has learned to laugh again. He is a teacher above all else. His multilingual skills are fascinating.
His book traces an outstanding journey of courage and hope in the throes of tremendous impatience to matter. He describes himself as a hectic man. In his words, “For me, it was difficult to sit down and wait, or even to postpone for tomorrow the solution of a problem that could be solved today.” (166) His story captures the human spirit’s relentless determination to be free.
We learn a lot from his memoirs in Habana-Merida-Chicago. Mexico is introduced to us in a whole new light. It is also a story that takes us from belief in God as a child to atheism as a young professional and back to salvation and redemption as an adult in exile. It is also about his search and success in finding the love of his life, his wife Gladys. They depended on each other for a new life in freedom and became an extension of each other’s best selves to make it happen.Their love story frames the book.
As a Latino couple, Antonio and Gladys Morales are helping to enrich our urban mosaic. My wife and I have met them both and have had the privilege of learning about their continuing saga in the comfort of their living room in Chicago.
Finally, educators will be pleased to know that the book is available in English and in Spanish. Students of both languages for example can compare and contrast the nuances and subtleties in each linguistic context. I have read the book twice. I recommend that others do it at least once. It’s worth the trip.
–Dr. Samuel Betances, Professor Emeritus of Sociology, Northeastern Illinois University, Chicago
2008
“I recommend this book to all readers because it: (a) helps to better evaluate the political, social, and economic advantages of living in the U.S.A.; (b) is a hymn to freedom, to love, to studying, to overcoming obstacles, and to committing one’s life to a noble cause; (c) is a valuable instrument to help parents become role models in the education of their children; (d) is a proof of God’s work on individuals, even atheists; (e) is a living example of a Hispanic immigrant, whose mission is to contribute to raise the educational level of students in the United States”
–Myrna Fragoso, Director of Bilingual Parents Resource Center, CPS, Chicago.
2009
“The content of the book enables me to teach my children that every obstacle should be used as a means of growing up in the pursuit of happiness, that they should take advantage of every opportunity provided by life itself, and that they should not allow anybody to spoil their dreams. This outstanding memoir shows that nothing is impossible. I would also like to underline the author’s humility to share his life with his readers so that we can grow as he did and keeps on doing. Thank you, Dr. Morales.”
Gisela Reyes, Hispanic mother from Chicago.

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