About this Miami Herald series

12/13/2008 2:44 PM

12/18/2008 12:54 PM

In this 10-part series, The Miami Herald examines some of those crucial moments in a movement led by Fidel Castro that came to be known as the Cuban revolution and affected millions of people on both sides of the Florida Straits.

The series will explore whether anything was achieved in a nation that now boasts a highly educated populace, but one steeped in economic despair.

On Wednesday, read about the Freedom Flights -- the largest, longest and most organized effort to resettle Cuban refugees ever sponsored by the U.S. government.

The Miami Herald is launching a unique searchable database of those 265,000 passengers in an effort to reconnect one-time ''freedom fliers'' with the resettlement program that dramatically changed the course of their lives -- 35-minute chartered commercial flights from Varadero to Miami that began in 1965 and ran through 1973.

Other segments in the series will focus on women political prisoners known as plantadas; the social and political role of societies for Afro-Cubans before the revolution, and what the community lost when the societies were banned after 1959; and the frenetic U.S. Embassy activity in Havana leading up to the day the revolution claimed victory.

The series will give you a behind-the-scenes look at the role that William Morgan, the so-called yanqui comandante, played in the final days of the guerrilla movement.

It will also introduce readers to William Wieland, at that time the head of the U.S. State Department's Caribbean-Mexican Affairs Office. Wieland was eventually blamed for persuading high-ranking U.S. officials to take a chance on Castro. He was later exonerated of any wrongdoing, but his career was shattered.

The series will also take you back to the day Castro declared victory -- Jan. 1, 1959 -- and cap the project with a look at how Cubans on the island today are commemorating that event.

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