“But here down below
close to the roots
is where memory
and there are people living
and dying doing their utmost
and so between them they achieve
what was believed impossible
to make the whole world know that south also exists”
Mario Benedetto, El Sur Tambien Existe….
In the 20th century, the 1960s were one of the most interesting periods of western culture and history. What is happening: Spring Revolution in Prague, Second Vatican Council, Cuban Revolution, Latino Hispanic Boom in literature, anti-racist movement in the USA, and beyond we have war in Vietnam, Joy de Vivre in Europe, Paris Spring 1968. Such intensity in public and human life never has been repeated after this period. Believe and hope for more justice in political systems and more happenings appeared with the questioning of humanity that in the South still exist.
After ending of Second World War, two blocks were created in world during the Cold War — West and East and it appears that they have been defined and limited by day rolls and purpose shaped as opposing camps: The North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the Warsaw Pact. In these circumstances the East becomes a counterweight to the West, which is capitalistic, rich and exploiting the poor South and marginalizing them. From another side, biggest Experimentum Mundi, by Ernest Bloch, German philosopher, fails down on the East disrespecting the human rights, freedom of speech, human need just to be personality not member of collective. Due that West gives people chance to succeed as Becket says: “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again.”
Suddenly, South America exits from the shadow. As Eduardo Galeano say’s Pandora’s box has been opened on the day the Cuban Revolution triumphed … now lies abandoned, its wings broken, in a doorway in the old town in Havana. Since that day in Cuba, other Latino American countries have set off on different roads of experiment. So the South arrives on horizon as visible force; beyond all powerful neighbor’s to the North.
The South existed since the world became aware that Latin America has a certain precise, place in the world. Famous revolution the Cuba in 1959, led by Fidel Castro, Ernesto Che Guevara and other members of 26th of July Movement, each allied against the military dictatorship of Cuban President Batista. In the field of politics, the key thing happened on the 1st January 1959 on one Caribbean Island when 20 people headed up from Sierra Maestra to occupy the so-called Banana Republic Cuba. Castro has pointed to the importance of third-world existence, which was contrary and something opposite to the contemporary imperial world. However, idealism has existed, so long as it’s possible in the human world. Freedom, equality, human and personal rights always would become a victim of political ambitions.
We will try to speak about 20 years of glory between 1959 and 1980. For almost 20 years, the Cuban Revolution gave significant meaning to South America in the cultural Universe. In these years there was hope for the possibility of a Utopian society.
The Cuban revolution was enough; no other socialist project would be tolerated, even it was result of democratic elections in Chile, where the government of Salvador Allende, the first Marxist ever to become president in a democratic election, a man who dreamed about equality and liberty and possessed the passion to make the dream come true. On September 11, 1973, a military coup ended this dream in Chile and started long regime of General Augusta Pinochet. All of South America was shaken by the ghost of revolution; however history speaks as prophet who looks back and announces what will be. So Cuba remain a lonely Caribbean island as a lighthouse for all the idealist of the world who believed in the possibility of freedom.
Well, it is nice to point out that during that time we did get a Latin American Boom in literature. It became more famous in the world than any other literature of that time! It was a movement of the 1960s and 1970s when a group of relatively young Latin American novelists became widely circulated in Europe and throughout the world.
“In Latin America a literature is taking shape and acquiring strength, a literature…that does not propose to bury our dead, but to immortalize them; that refuses to stir the ashes but rather attempts to light in fire…perhaps it may help to preserve for the generations to come…’the true name of all the things’”.
Eduardo Gaelano,1978 , from Days And Nights of Love and War
In that sense, the Cuban Revolution, by identifying intellectuals with politics, means the engagement of radical leftists’ goals was one of the biggest factors of radical change in the society. When the French journalist asked Paul Sartre how to support the most oppressed, threatened people, the French philosopher said: “Become Cubans”.
Sartre and Simon de Beauvoir had accepted an invitation to visit and arrived in Havana during the festivities of Carnaval. Sartre spent long hours locked in conversation with Castro and Che, many of which he recorded in the series of articles he later published in France – Soirée entitled Hurricane over the Sugar. Beneath his panegyric, though, there is a subtle, almost unconscious, awareness that the line between revolutionary zeal and tyranny would likely be crossed and that emerging structures of state across the island would soon become a state of power.
Since the establishment of the institution of ”Casa de las Americas”, most Latin American writers and a majority of European intellectual elites would be closely tied to the political and cultural activities, which were organized by Cubans. Beyond the institution of “Casa de las Americas,” Haydee Santamaria established a magazine, which brought the world’s greatest artist to the Revolution, making their art available to the Cuban public.
Despite a sixth-grade education, Haydee educated herself and established meaningful relationships with cutting–edge artists, including Nobel laureates. She rejected the socialist Realism favored in the Soviet Union. And she supported and protected artists who fell prey to the Cuban leadership’s repressive periods.
The first several issues of the magazine “Casa de las Americas” included writers Julio Cortazar, Ernesto Sabato, Mario Vargas Ilosa, Carlos Fuentes, Hose Donoso, Alejo Carpentier, etc. The merit of Cuba was that it made people think there was a common Latin American project, by which the South wasn’t different from the North. It was just an identity question, by way of action and engagement in the fight that world changes can be for the better.
So, the revolution was absolutely one thing, but her evolution was something else since Cuba changed her direction, in opposition to the principles established by the Soviets. Censorship and repression were conducted by the National Council for Culture, according to Castro’s “Words to Intellectuals” – ‘“Within the revolution everything; against the revolution nothing.’’
To be continued…..
Preview YouTube video “MEN IN CRISIS: FIDEL CASTRO VS. FULGENCIO BATISTA” 1959 CUBAN REVOLUTION DOCUMENTARY FILM XD36714
Eduardo Galeano, Open Veins of Latin America,1973, Monthly Review Press
Jean Paul Sartre, Sartre on Cuba, January 1,1961, Ballantine Books
Esteban y Gallego, DE GABO DE MARIO, La estripe del boom,2009, Espasa Calpe
Mario Vargas Llosa, Sabras and Utopias,Visions of Latin America, Picador, 2019.