Album of the Cuban Revolution

I've included this trading card album as a memento from my childhood and that of my contemporaries who lived in Cuba in the early 60s. I want to make clear that I do not endorse the political content of this album. Even though many of the events described here did take place, the interpretation given to them in this publication is sheer propaganda. Unfortunately, back then, when this album was published, a majority of Cubans and the rest of the world wanted to believe this propaganda as they were still very hopeful that “La Revolución” was going to yield an era of political freedom. It wasn’t until sometime later that Castro made his intentions clear by his actions that he was going to run Cuba as a bloody dictatorship under the pretense of “marxist communism.”

I found the center pages (16 & 17) the most interesting, with actual pictures of the main characters of “La Revolución:” Fidel and Raúl Castro, Camilo Cienfuegos, Ché Guevara, Crescencio Pérez, Faustino Pérez, Luís Orlando Rodríguez, Efigenio Almejeiras, Faure Chaumont, Rolando Cubelas, Victor Bordón, Eloy Gutiérrez Menoyo, Hubert Matos, Humberto Sori Marín, Juán Almeida, Raúl Chibás. One thing that struck me is how young these men were at the time they took power. Just as interesting is the fact that most of these men are now dead. And not of old age.

Castro was well known to consolidate power of the revolutionary forces with regular purges of the revolutionary command; and he continued to do it after taking power. The first one to go was Camilo Cienfuegos. He had become very popular and one day the plane he was flying disappeared misteriously, without a trace. Many of the others were put to firing squads for “treason” (to Castro, not Cuba). The only ones left today, besides the Castro brothers, are Efigenio Almejeiras and Juán Almeida.

For a first hand account on this subject, see a very eloquoent message sent by Larry Daley to the soc.culture.cuba newsgroup.


I found this album in 1999 in Woodside, California, in a restaurant called Buck’sExternal Page Policy 
(click to see policy and instructions). The owner, Jamis MacNiven, has filled Buck’s with all kinds of artifacts. The walls are covered with pictures, funny letters, and knick knacks; there are toys and scale models hanging from the ceiling and many other interesting gadgets in every nook and cranny of the restaurant. As playful as it feels, Buck’s is Ground Zero for deal making, Silicon Valley style. In any case, among all the goodies I discovered this album on a wall on the way to the restroom.

Jamis had framed it featuring the cover and two or three pages. I got really excited when I realized that I was looking at a plaything form my childhood, and one that I had never expected to see (certainly not in the middle of the Bay Area). I set out to look for the owner. I told him how I collected and traded those card as a kid; he told me how he got the album on a trip to Cuba in 1995. He also related to me how he found Cuba a very sad place indeed. Jamis writes an article every month which he includes as the back page of Buck's menu. Soon after returning from Cuba, he wrote a sad and beautiful description of his trip which he called “Cuba, Land of Melacholy.”

To my delight, Jamis loaned me the album to scan for a web site. When I returned the album I asked him if he would consider selling it to me, but he declined pointing out that it was a souvenir of his trip to Cuba. A few days later, quite unexpectedly, he sent me an email offering to simply give me the album! Jamis is a physically big man, but this extraordinarily generous gesture showed how big he really is.

Subsequently, we made copies of the cover and a few pages and he framed the whole thing back together and put it up on the same wall. This time he added a note with a URL to this page :-)