'Surviving Castro's Cuba' headlines Downtown lecture series
“Surviving Castro’s Cuba”, a harrowing account of Juan Carlos Jimenez’s remembrances of one of history’s most famous dictators, will commence a Downtown Phoenix campus lecture series as well as a universitywide initiative on the humanities.
Jimenez will kick off the spring 2011 Humanities Lecture Series as well as Project Humanities, a universitywide initiative to promote the importance of humanities within the higher education system and community. His lecture is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m., Jan. 27, at the Nursing and Health Innovation Building Two, 550 N. Third St., Phoenix, Innovation Auditorium, Room 110.
The lecture series is free and open to the public.
“The Humanities Lecture Series provides us with opportunities to analyze, discuss and interpret current events. We look forward to public discussions that help us understand and appreciate various points of view on political, social and cultural issues,” said Frederick C. Corey, director of ASU’s School of Letters and Sciences and dean of University College.
Jimenez, a mathematics instructor with ASU’s School of Letters and Sciences, said he will recount the nightmare he and thousands of other native Cubans experienced more than 50 years ago as a result of Fidel Castro’s 1959 government takeover.
“Many of my people believed the promises of a young and charismatic bearded lawyer named Fidel Castro who promised free elections in six months, respect for the 1940 Constitution, complete freedom of the press, and respect for human rights among many other things,” Jimenez said. “He betrayed every one of his promises and implemented a totalitarian regime that would make him dictator for life.”
Born into a privileged lifestyle, Jimenez’s family owned hotels, restaurants, retail shops, and a construction business. However, those assets were confiscated by force with no compensation by Castro when he came to power. While his home was subject to weekly raids and inspections by soldiers, Jimenez and his sister were dispatched to the United States with an aunt in hopes of returning when the country settled down. Unfortunately, Castro had other plans and the separation lasted approximately seven and a half years.
Having found himself in unfamiliar surroundings, Jimenez knew only four words of English when he arrived in Miami, Fla., in April of 1960. Determined to make a better life for his sister and aunt, Jimenez became innovative in his endeavors as a child to help support all three.
“I was already gifted in math, but it took me a good year to become conversant in English,” Jimenez said. “It soon became apparent that education was the key to a better life and that’s the direction I took.”
Jimenez later graduated from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, with a double major in marine sciences and mathematics, earning his doctorate in marine sciences, as well as a bachelor's degree and master's degree in zoology and mathematics.
Before moving to Arizona, Jimenez taught at various colleges and universities in the New England area, the University of Puerto Rico, and was a lecturer/consultant to the Science Museum in the Dominican Republic. He also led the first expedition to study the humpback whale population in the northern waters of the Dominican.
For directions, visit http://nursingandhealthasu.edu/contact/nursing-buildings.htm. For parking information, visit http://nursingandhealth.asu.edu/contact/parking/htm. For more information call Dr. Mirna. Lattouf, lecture series organizer, at (602) 496-0638 or visit http://sls.asu.edu/news.html.