by Ernesto Cardenal
Translated from the Spanish by Donald D. Walsh
The work of the Nicaraguan poet Ernesto Cardenal is widely read throughout Spanish America today. As a Catholic priest who is also a Marxist revolutionary, his sympathies and understanding span the polarities of popular sentiment, allowing him to view objectively what others, out of ignorance or self-interest, fear. In 1970, eleven years after Fidel Castro’s triumphant Revolution, Cardenal was invited to Havana by the House of the Americas, to sit on the poetry panel of its annual literary competition. Leaving Solentiname, his religious commune, he came to Cuba and remained for several months, keeping voluminous notes on all that he heard and saw. The result was In Cuba, a spontaneous, discursive, and not altogether uncritical account of life in a revolutionary society. Hovering over Cardenal’s whole view of Cuba is the mythic presence of Che Guevara, the martyred revolutionary, and that of the flesh-and-blood Fidel. Appropriately enough, the book culminates in a description of the Cuban premier’s four-hour speech on the 26th of July, and concludes with a private interview with Castro, held the following year. Translated for the first time into English by Donald D. Walsh, this edition includes a helpful glossary and chronology of recent Cuban history.