Life in a Cuban Jail
For over a decade Stephen Purvis had been a pillar of Havana's expat community, one of many foreign businessmen investing in Cuba's crawl from Cold War communism towards modernity. But for reasons unknown to him he was also under State Security's microscope. One morning during the height of President Raúl Castro's purges in 2012, he was arrested and taken away into the absurd and brutal world of Cuban justice.
17 years ago, British architect Stephen Purvis was offered a job in Cuba. Tired of his "suburban middle-class life" in Wimbledon, UK, he moved to the island with his wife. A normal expat story.
It was a job as development director with Coral Capital, an investment and trading company. It was one of several small foreign firms that were setting up in Cuba as the country sought international partners following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Purvis’s job was to look for joint venture opportunities with the Cuban government. The planned projects included the first golf course to be constructed there since the 1959 revolution, and the revamp of a formerly glamorous hotel, the Saratoga.
The son of a theatrical designer, Purvis also dabbled in theatre himself, producing the Cuban dance show Havana Rakatan, which performed successfully for several years in London. No one, of course, imagined that those halcyon days would end so abruptly, with Purvis imprisoned in what he describes as a “zoo” for enemies of the state.
None of the imprisoned foreigners had at that stage been formally charged with anything, but the assumption was they were caught up in Raúl Castro’s pledge to root out corruption.
Now Purvis reflected his experiences in a cuban jail in a new book: Close but No Cigar: A True Story of Prison Life in Castro's Cuba.
As reported in The Guardian.