My review of “Our Woman in Havana Reporting Castro’s Cuba” Sarah Rainsford

our woman in havana


Sarah Rainsford was the BBC’s correspondent in Cuba from 2011-14. Known as “Our woman in Havana”  it  feels  like  a throwback to a time when the UK was a world power that needed  to send out foreign correspondents like missionaries. An irony probably not lost on Raul Castro as he did not grant her an interview during her tenure.

She arrives in  Cuba as the country is once again having to reboot the revolution.  Raul Castro unveils a new economic agenda,  opening up markets for citizens to buy and sell houses and cars, set up businesses and travel in and out of Cuba.

Life is not easy for Rainsford as she faces difficulties sending her reports back to the UK, government restrictions on her work  and the self-censorship of local people as she goes around interviewing the Cuban woman and man on the street.

She uses Graham Greene’s 1958 novel “Our Man in Havana” to explore the last days of the Batista regime, linking  it to present day Cuba. At first Greene wallowed in the licentiousness of Havana,  but  was quickly revolted by it, and went over to the revolution and a lifetime commitment to the socialist state.


Rainsford also explores the life of another female correspondent American  Ruby Hart Phillips who reported from  Cuba from 1937 to 1961.

In her interviews Rainsford  does show how Cubans, particularly the younger generation, are looking for a lifestyle similar to what they see on the internet:  this  is the challenge facing Raul Castro and his successors.

The Cuban revolution is still alive, but the constant assaults on it have led to the rise of new forces –  including Christianity –  which Rainsford highlights,  although she  fails to explore the ways in which it is being funded by the USA.

Likewise whilst interviewing Cubans who want to leave the country (and then do) she does not follow them abroad to see if the American dream has become  a reality for them.

Rainsford’s reporting is at its best when she puts aside her own personal prejudices and allows the reader to experience  the uniqueness of the history  and beauty of Cuba.

Published by Oneworld Publications”, cost £18.99. Buy it here

About lipstick socialist

I am an activist and writer. My interests include women, class, culture and history. From an Irish in Britain background I am a republican and socialist. All my life I have been involved in community and trade union politics and I believe it is only through grass roots politics that we will get a better society. This is reflected in my writing, in my book Northern ReSisters Conversations with Radical Women and my involvement in the Mary Quaile Club. .If you want to contact me please use my gmail which is lipsticksocialist636
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2 Responses to My review of “Our Woman in Havana Reporting Castro’s Cuba” Sarah Rainsford

  1. Sandy Rose says:

    It sounds like a very interesting book. I would have liked to hear more about it and about the history of Cuba

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