Next Year In Havana
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  1. Why would most people ask Marisol about her writing, where she had been published or how successful she is, but Luis asked instead, if she enjoyed it? Did that show of glimmer of the type of person he is? How did he measure success?
  2. The exiles in Miami and around the world hate Castro because? How is their anger different from that of the Cuban who stayed?
  3. What were the things Elisa chose to save in her box? What do you think Marisol might have saved in a box? What would you have kept and buried?
  4. For Elisa, why was marriage for status, for wealth, and for family? Why was love a luxury for the poor? How did this affect her decisions?
  5. How could Elisa both envy Alejandro for casting off the weight and responsibility of being a Perez, and also envy him at the same time? Was family or country higher for his loyalties? What about for Elisa or for Marisol? Are lines crossed when one crosses the boundaries of another?
  6. How did money buy the Perez family proximity to power, but also create a target on their backs? Where is "the difference between sin and survival" when they did not agree with many of Batista’s policies? Does the benefit they received from his power automatically damn them in the eyes of some of their countrymen?
  7. How was it different to be a woman in Cuba in the 50’s and 60’s, from what Elisa could do versus her father, or Pablo, or Alejandro? Did the same differences exist for Marisol and Luis, or his mother and grandmother?
  8. While Elisa’s sisters were her friends joined by birth, how was there "freedom in having a friend [Ana] with whom I can be myself, without the expectations and strings of family dynamics and drama"? In what ways did Ana continue to show herself to be Elisa’s friend?
  9. How could Elisa love someone who had taken a life? Was he "really different from the men who give orders behind desks, who are equally responsible for the bloodshed even if the violence is carried out in their authority and not by their neatly manicured hands? "Where do matters of right and wrong fall in times of war?" Were Pablo and Alejandro soldiers or criminals?
  10. In speaking of the revolutionaries, Luis said I didn't necessarily say there were good ones...Merely men who died before they made the full transition from liberating heroes to tyrants." Where is the line between hero and tyrant? Is it a slow progression, and how do you think it came about for many of these men, especially Castro and Guevara?
  11. Why is the Cuban convertible peso so important? Why do some Cuban doctors and lawyers spend their free time working in hotels in Cuba?
  12. What is "so ironically vicious" about the fact that, at La Cabaña, "You can gawk at the world’s largest cigar in the site where we bled"?
  13. What are the food rations like in Cuba? Is there ever excess, or even enough? How is that a contrast to how the tourists live when they visit, or how most Americans live? Why was Marisol "filled with the deepest amount of shame" thinking about all the food she had taken for granted in her life?
  14. What did Marisol mean when she quoted Animal Farm "All are equal, but some are more equal than others"?
  15. Why is there a generational divide on the Cuban embargo with the US? How did Marisol’s grandparents’ generation feel about "giving Fidel anything" and why?
  16. What does the toast mean "Next year in Havana"?
  17. What did Elisa mean "there are no saints in Havana"?
  18. Why was the need to know the truth, to understand where she came from, so powerful for Marisol?
  19. Why is the spirit behind the word ojalá "so quintessentially Cuban, incrementally beyond hope?"
  20. Elisa (and Marisol) hated the Argentinian Che Guevara, whom some still in Cuba herald as a hero. Why did his nationality add insult to injury? Though she didn’t know about it at the time, what cruelties would Che be responsible for in the prison at Santa Clara? What did it mean that "Che likes his schedules"?
  21. Why, after the revolution, when Batista left the country in Fidel was in power, did those closest to him fear him most? Shouldn’t they have been reveling in their victory?
  22. Why did Marisol’s American nationality only afford her so much protection in Cuba? Why is Cuba still dangerous, even for her, a journalist? How is Luis "just one Cuban in a long list of human rights abuses"?
  23. "Is it better to stay and become part of the system, or leave and be considered a traitor?" How did the speaker of this quote try to be a counterbalance of some of the more extreme notions over the years?
  24. How is Cuba a "world where you have no rights" and though America also has injustices, what are some of its mechanisms that protect its citizens from a life like that in Cuba?

* Some questions for Owlcation.

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