CUCHO A Journey from Cuba to Freedom is the incredible story of sacrifice, dedication, and love by Cuban refuge Louis “Cucho” Balart, a remarkable man who escaped Fidel Castro’s revolutionary takeover of Cuba, and his personal struggle for freedom lost and regained. Cucho’s experience reminds all of us how fragile freedom can be.
Tragically, Cucho died just days before the gathering to honor his life and many contributions he made to his adopted state of Louisiana and the medical community of New Orleans. Rispone, a close friend and admirer of Cucho, had worked for two years in collaboration with Cucho. As it turned out Cucho never got to see his published story.
“The untimely passing of Louis Balart has been a terrible shock to his family, his friends, and colleagues at LSU Medical Center and beyond,” Rispone said. “And, coming only hours before he was to see our book, I guess the good Lord needed him to do more great things, as he had for all of us.
“I have been a fan of Louis Balart for many, many years. The challenges he faced, and the very real fear he had for his family, together with the understanding that there was something better prompted his successful escape to America,” Rispone added. “The story of Louis’ quest for freedom needed to be told, and I, fortunate enough to have a firsthand relationship with him, was allowed to tell it.”
Louis Balart had been a prominent, practicing physician in Cuba, but when he came to America he was unable to pursue his profession. Undaunted, and with much effort, he helped change the law and eventually received his license to practice and even taught at the LSU Medical School.
CUCHO A Journey from Cuba to Freedom is dedicated to all those individuals, whether immigrant, refugee, or seekers of freedom that dared to dream and fight for a better life.
In telling his story, Cucho stresses the important difference between the terms immigrant and refugee. His own great-grandparents immigrated to Haiti from France in pursuit of financial gain, but ended up as refugees fleeing Haiti for Cuba to escape the anti-European sentiment threatening their freedom and lives. Cucho too fled his homeland as a refugee in fear for his family, and immigrated to New Orleans to seek the freedom that had been too easily taken from him, a lesson for citizens everywhere.
As a student at the University of Havana, Cucho visited New Orleans as an exchange student where he fell in love with the people and the city, especially the French Quarter. Louis Balart was 92.
CUCHO A Journey from Cuba to Freedom is available through local bookstores or can be ordered through Amazon.com (hard cover or eBook) or direct from the distributor by calling 1- 800-891-7323.