Author Stephen E. Murphy redeems his promise to prominent Cuban dissident in Havana Odyssey: Chasing Ochoa's Ghost
— New historical mystery novel about legendary Cuban General Arnaldo Ochoa, his family and the aftermath of his controversial execution published in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month and the Ochoa family —
MIAMI, FL — September 15, 2020 — (LATINX NEWSWIRE) — Stephen E. Murphy remembers his promise made to the niece of Cuba’s slain Hero of the Republic in 1989. As the U.S. Information Agency’s TV director in Washington DC, he promised Ana Sanchez to tell General Arnaldo Ochoa’s story to the world.
General Ochoa was Cuba’s conquering hero, whose military campaigns are still taught at the U.S. and Russian War Colleges. “A friend speculated that Ochoa’s death warrant was issued when Cubans spontaneously rose from their seats to applaud the Hero of the Republic wherever he went. Fidel and Raul Castro took note. The brothers reveled in the limelight. They granted none to anyone else, unless it served their purpose,” stated the author.
Then the international press highlighted drug-running by Cuba, and the Castros looked for a scapegoat. Ochoa and close associates fit the bill. After a public “show trial,” General Ochoa and three officers were court-martialed and shot for “treason” against the wall on July 13,1989 at the Baracoa base west of Havana. Though recalled by Cuban Americans, Ochoa and his colleague’s story has slowly faded from public view.
“Though it took me 31 years, Havana Odyssey: Chasing Ochoa’s Ghost redeems my promise made to Ana and to the Ochoa family,” affirmed Murphy.
He served as USIA-TV’s director under President George H. W. Bush, and met Ana in the TV studios in 1989. They became friends and shared a brief romance. Then one spring morning in 1990, Ana Sanchez disappeared, leaving Murphy in the lurch: “Her memory haunted me for years.”
In 2015, the author was upbraided by an exile and member of the Cuban American National Foundation at a Seattle University seminar. He told Murphy, “If you want to find Ana alive, you’ll have to go A.S.A.P. She is in failing health, hidden somewhere in Cuba.”
As bilateral relations loosened, Murphy represented his university on an educational mission. “Afterwards, I searched for Ana but received conflicting reports. I was also interrogated for asking too many questions. When I returned again, sadly, I only found Ana’s gravesite in the countryside,” admitted Murphy.
The author decided to record his odyssey – including interrogation by Cuban intelligence and scary scenes off Varadero beach – in his just published book.
Dr. Jaime Suchlicki, Director, Cuban Affairs Institute (Coral Gables, FL) and author, Cuba: From Columbus to Castro and Beyond, declared: “Havana Odyssey: Chasing Ochoa’s Ghost is an insightful look at modern-day Cuba. The book is sympathetic to the Cuban people yet critical of the inner workings of the authoritarian state. This historical novel reads well, offering romance, treachery, and personal redemption.”
Stated the author, “Havana Odyssey tells Ochoa’s story through the lens of an American professor, Luke Shannon. Through salsa clubs, police stations and even Santeria sessions, the reader experiences contemporary Cuba and its undercurrents. Though the powers-that-be try to sweep his memory away, isolating family members, Ochoa still casts a long shadow.”
When COVID-19 hit the U.S.A. and Cuba in March 2020, Murphy’s book deal fell apart. “Though the rug was pulled out from under me, my stubborn Gaelic genes kicked in. Thanks to our dedicated team in Seattle, Miami, Havana and Washington D.C., we self-published Havana Odyssey through IngramSpark. I thus honor my promise to Ana and the Ochoa family as well as the 65 cubanos I interviewed in confidence during my trips to Cuba.”
Professor Eduardo Gamarra, Florida International University, exclaims: “Havana Odyssey takes the reader on a wild ride through the corridors of power in Cuba, where the ghosts of Ochoa, Che and Cienfuegos still roam.”
Havana Odyssey: Chasing Ochoa’s Ghost is available to bookstores and libraries at IngramSpark (ISBN 9781-952483-127) and for readers on Amazon.com: https://www.amazon.com/Havana-Odyssey-Chasing-Ochoas-Ghost/dp/1952483123/
The author is available for interviews en español, via Zoom or socially distanced public readings.
About Stephen E. Murphy, Author
Stephen E. Murphy has lived, worked and taught in las Americas for decades. As Director of Worldnet Television, he worked with the prominent Cuban exiles, Jorge Mas Canosa and Tony Navarro, to bring Radio/TV Marti on air. Murphy held executive positions at the Peace Corps, Paramount Pictures, Inter-American Development Bank and BankBoston.
He authored On the Edge: An Odyssey (2016) and is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese. Murphy has taught at Seattle University and is chapter advisor, Phi Kappa Psi fraternity, University of Washington. He loves swimming in open bodies of water around the world. The author and his wife Vicki reside in Issaquah, WA with their two Lhasa apsos and tabby cat.
Photo Copyrights (used with permission): Stephen E. Murphy, Herb Levin, J.D. Fuller (book cover), University of Havana (Ochoa image)
Photo Collage Credit: Jason Murphy, Jersain Cruz and Alexandra Navas
Hashtags: #Cuba, #ArnaldoOchoa, #Cubandissidents, #StephenEMurphy, #internationalthriller, #Miami, #Havana, #Seattle, #WashingtonDC, #Latinoliterature, #Catholic, #santeria, #salsa, #FidelCastro, #RaulCastro
Photo Captions (Collage): Available upon request