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Cuban-born doctor keen on French history

BY JOSÉ PATIÑO GIRONA
Tribune staff

Published:   |   Updated: July 7, 2013 at 02:08 AM

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TAMPA - He worked as a surgeon in Tampa for decades, invented the Mijares-Allis forceps used for intestinal surgery, and designed and was at one time part owner of Town & Country Hospital.

For Cuban-born José Mijares, though, his story doesn't end there - literally. At 92, he's finishing his second volume on the French Revolution, which he hopes to independently publish next year.

The subject of the French Revolution caught Mijares' attention years ago and gradually became an obsession.

He spent $10,000 on books to research the history of the French Revolution, which occurred in the late 1700s. Before publishing his first volume in 2001, he took a trip to Paris with his late wife, Adolfina Mijares, to absorb the history in person.

"I knew I had to write a book to tell the truth," he said. "Since I've read so much on the topic, there hasn't been a more complete book on the French Revolution."

The theme of his two-volume set is that the French Revolution was the first revolt that ushered what later would be defined as communism. He's called the book: "The French Revolution: The First Communist Revolution."

"I learned that the French Revolution was a disaster for the world," Mijares said. "That is where the communist ideas began."

Over time, the revolution created a multitude of problems for the country, he said.

"(After the revolution) they did some good things, but they also made many disasters," Mijares said. "For France it was a disaster. France never became what it once was."

Mijares writes in the afternoon. He writes in longhand and in Spanish after having spent the morning taking a shower, eating breakfast and watching Catholic Mass at noon.

Mijares' connection to the United States began long before he moved to this country more than a century ago.

During World War II, he was assigned as a physician on a Cuban gunboat that was placed under U.S. Navy command. The ship, which operated from Key West, offered protection for ships that carried munition and soldiers to Europe.

President Harry S. Truman acknowledged his work during the war, and Mijares was presented a formal recognition from the former president.

In the 1950s, he treated and performed surgery on injured U.S. Marines who had arrived from the Korean War at the Naval Hospital in Portsmouth, Va.

From 1953 to 1955, he was an assistant naval attaché at the Cuban Embassy in Washington, D.C.

Locally, he ran for the state House of Representatives in 1990 but lost.

He began writing in the 1950s while living in Washington, D.C. He decided to write about the reconstruction of Cuba, an effort that turned into three editions.

Mijares was imprisoned in Cuba for a short time - only a day or two - when Fidel Castro took over Cuba in 1959, and he left the country in 1960 with his wife and two daughters and settled in Tampa.

After becoming a U.S. citizen in 1965, he started a private practice in Town 'N Country and his career blossomed - though his father in Cuba had told him years before that he didn't want him to pursue a medical career because it didn't pay well.

Many times he'd perform operations for free for people who couldn't afford it, said his grandson, Nacio Almorza.

When they go out to eat, people still stop by the table and thank him, Almorza said.

Almorza moved in with his grandfather five years ago to help take care of him.

"Caring for him has been the greatest job I've ever had," said Almorza, 43.

"It's the best thing I've ever done in my life."

jpatino@tampatrib.com

(813) 259-7659

Twitter: @jpatinoTBO

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