in a Strange Land
FIDEL CASTRO FELT LOST. On July 24, 1955, he wrote to Melba Hernández: "Ten days have passed without news from you.... I'm being driven crazy, wanting to know how things are going there.... I feel more isolated than when they had me in solitary confinement." People spoke a different kind of Spanish in Mexico, and he knew almost no one in the city. His greatest need was for money, and he could no longer count on his family for support. A week later he wrote her again: "I don't have an alarm clock here. If I oversleep, we'll miss the mailman. So I won't go to sleep. I have a cold and a cough, and my whole body aches." He missed the comforts of Cuba's tropical climate. Even in the summer months the Mexican capital, at an altitude of more than seven thousand feet, could be chilly. Worst of all, he said, "I don't have any Cuban cigars. That's the picture here." His ties with the movement in Cuba were now tenuous at best. His other contact in Havana was a hotel clerk, Pedro Pérez Font, who could receive and intercept mail discreetly. On August 1 Castro wrote to thank him for having sent eighty-five dollars. "I can't tell you how much pleasure it gives me.... I can understand your impatience there, but I don't know the hour the revolution will start." He might have gone to Miami instead, but he preferred to distance himself from the intrigues and petty infighting of the exiled politicians. Moreover, the Eisenhower administration, in prosecuting Prío Socarrás, had signified that it would not tolerate Cubans who plotted armed rebellion against a friendly, anticommunist government. In the weeks that followed, Castro worked to rebuild his shattered network of supporters throughout the island and to bind it to his new headquarters.
Revolutionary Mexico had long attracted refugees from many lands,