Segments in this Video

Introduction: Conga Lessons at the Bay of Pigs (02:52)


In 2003, Senator Michael Enzi argues to lift the U.S. embargo against Cuba. In 2002, three Americans, including Peter Melaragno, travel to Cuba under the People-to-People exemption of the Trading with the Enemy Act. (Credits)

Cuba/U.S. Relations (03:25)

In 1960, Cuba expropriates 300,000 acres of land owned by the United Fruit Company; the company has ties to the U.S. government and the CIA. In April 1961, the United States invades Cuba. President Kennedy signs Presidential Proclamation 3447 in February 1962.

Havana, Cuba (08:51)

Melaragno recalls his first visit to Cuba. On his second trip, he and two other Americans stay at the home of Estelle; they see the effects of the embargo. Hear Cuban music and see images of the city; Cubans are resourceful.

U.S. Embargo Against Cuba (05:38)

In the 1980s, the U.S. offers to improve relations if Cuba adheres to conditions. Cuba meets the conditions in 1992, but the U.S. tightens the embargo. Fidel Castro benefits from the sanctions—others struggle to survive. Hear Cuban music and see images of Havana.

Illegal Immigration (04:41)

The blockade and restrictive U.S. immigration policies lead thousands of Cubans to risk their lives crossing the Florida Straits. The current U.S. Cuban quota is 20,000. The Americans Havana for Santiago de Cuba; they receive oranges as a gift.

The Bay of Pigs (04:04)

President Kennedy labels April 17, 1961 the worst day of his life. The U.S. invasion lasts three days. The painting of B-26s bombers to look like Cuban military aircraft violates the Geneva Convention. Melaragno purchases a coconut.

Journey to Santiago de Cuba (04:53)

In Santa Clara, locals visit street vendors; a Baptist church has no roof. Musicians in Trinidad de Cuba perform "Hasta Siempre"; Che Guevara is a revered figure. Musicians perform in Santiago de Cuba.

"Casa Particular" (09:04)

The Americans spend Christmas Day with Cesar and his family; Cesar discusses Chucho Valdés and happiness. See footage of Parque Céspedes and Plaza de Marte. Melaragno discusses Cuba's social welfare record.

Society and Politics (05:20)

Cuban music expresses social sentiment; two men at Cesar's house slaughter a pig. On December 24, 1962, Cuba releases 1,113 Bay of Pigs prisoners. Che Guevara meets Richard Goodwin who suggests to President Kennedy that he tighten sanctions, setting the stage for the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Credits: Conga Lessons at the Bay of Pigs (02:58)

Credits: Conga Lessons at the Bay of Pigs

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Conga Lessons at the Bay of Pigs

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In 2002, three Americans traveled to Cuba under the U.S. Government's People-to-People exemption of the Trading With the Enemy Act, which at the time allowed for educational and cultural exchanges between the U.S. and Cuba. Their original purpose had been to avoid the more than forty years of political drama inherent to American-Cuban relations, and instead immerse themselves in the vibrant musical culture of Cuba, an impoverished island with which the American government had all but totally prohibited commercial and cultural contact. In Havana, the men stayed in what is known their as a "Casa Particular" (or private home) this one owned by an elderly woman named Estelle. Later they headed south toward the Bay of Pigs and the cities of Trinidad and Santa Clara. Their final destination, however, was Santiago de Cuba, where they were invited to stay at another "Casa Particular," this one owned by Cesar. In fact, Cesar had asked the travelers to attend his family’s holiday feast and while the music and lilting rhythms of the island dominate most of this video, it is this day of Christmas spent with Cesar that gives these 52 minutes an unexpected weight.

Length: 53 minutes

Item#: BVL215659

ISBN: 978-1-63722-188-4

Copyright date: ©2003

Closed Captioned

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