In This Review

Cuba Confidential: Love and Vengeance in Miami and Havana
Cuba Confidential: Love and Vengeance in Miami and Havana
By Ann Louise Bardach
Random House, 2002, 384 pp.

A marvelous and evocative deconstruction of the incestuous relationships and hardball tactics that have kept Cuba firmly under Fidel Castro and U.S. policy toward Cuba paralyzed under the influence of Miami's Cuban Americans. Bardach pulls no punches here, making her book the most accessible account of this sorry tangle yet. She has talked to everyone: crooks, spooks, politicos, hired assassins, the inner circle of Florida Governor Jeb Bush, and even the garrulous and manipulative Castro himself. This is a story of betrayal, suspicion, and conspiracies, with agents and counteragents immersed in an ongoing Caribbean Cold War where John Le Carre would feel very much at home. Bardach also documents the exile community as it shifted from favoring paramilitary strikes against Castro to launching a brilliantly successful lobbying effort within the American political system in the early 1980s, modeled on the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. As one former Washington official put it, "The Israeli lobby buys Democrats and rents Republicans, the Cubans buy Republicans and rent Democrats." As Bardach makes clear, the power of this lobby in Congress and beyond remains very much alive for now -- as does Castro.