Jaime Sabina Perez
90 Miles to Paradise by Jaime Sabina Perez Summary
The year is 1994. After a routine night of fishing, 16-year-old Jaime and his friend Josue encounter three hardened criminals on a Cuban beach. Their goal: Find a raft - anything seaworthy - and get to the United States. They're offering money, a lot of it, for the one the boys have. For many teenagers, it would have been a lucky, one-time windfall. But when Jaime watches the three men take to the open sea, it kindles a dream. He wants what these men are seeking: Freedom. But for Jaime, the son of hardworking, stalwart Communists, the path to the United States will be anything but smooth. Soon afterward, Fidel Castro "opens the coast," granting amnesty to anyone who wants to leave. Jaime and his friends are already building a new boat that they believe will withstand the ocean and get them to the United States. But fate has a twisted path ahead: Like many fleeing Cubans, Jaime and his friends will be rescued from the open waters by the U.S. Coast Guard and taken to the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, an American-run refugee camp that will swell to a population of more than 35,000. The future is uncertain; news is scarce. Is anyone really destined to get to the US? Or does their future lie on the other side of the concertina wire, back in Communist-run Cuba? As a teenager alone in the camps, Jaime tests the boundaries and bends the rules. He survives a daring-but-failed escape attempt, a riot, a hurricane, and even Guantanamo Bay's soon-to-be-infamous "Camp X-Ray." Along the way, he is helped by a series of unlikely friends, from a voodoo priest to an Army chaplain. Now a successful businessman in North Carolina, Jaime Perez had a ringside seat to one of the most remarkable periods in Cuban-US history. In simple, quick-moving prose, he takes the reader back to the sights, sounds and experiences of Cuba in 1994, and makes us understand the forces that make people go to such great lengths to be free. 90 Miles to Paradise is an unforgettable story of courage and faith.