Havana Cuba. – This Friday marks three years since a respiratory condition end the life of cartoonist Juan Padrón, creator of countless cartoons that accompanied several generations of Cubans. They were all fun, witty and educational; but perhaps none made the nationals laugh as much as “Vampiros en La Habana”, or managed to cement patriotism like Elpidio Valdés.
The courageous and noble mambí, who appeared for the first time in a samurai comic entitled “Cachivache”, back in 1970, conquered the heart of its author from the first moment. That is why he had his kingdom in the place where the Cuban nation was forged: the jungle. From there, each of his adventures contributed to stimulate the interest of children and young people in the history of the country, especially the colonial period and the independence struggles against Spain.
Without ideological biases or manipulations, Elpidio Valdés vindicated Cuban identity, love for freedom and respect for the heroes in a more effective way than any spiel or speech. Juan Padrón managed to protect the character from the dogma that devoured all artistic expression right in the 70s. Elpidio was born within the framework of the “parameterization”, of the Gray Quinquenio, of so many filmed heads and failed projects.
In such a hostile scenario, the mambí managed to maintain its essence, separating the decades of struggle against the Spanish Crown, from what is called a “single and uninterrupted process”, and which invariably ends in the figure of Fidel Castro and his disastrous revolution. Perhaps that is why all Cubans love Colonel Valdés, María Silvia, Eutelia, Pepito and even the panchos so much.
Juan Padrón bequeathed to the Cuban people an uncontaminated symbol of what we once were. Three years after his death, his son Elpidio continues to mourn him and Cuba. He is still alive in the caricatures of other authors who also love this Island, and they represent him as a Cuban of these times, of right now, with a realism that hurts. Elpidio continues to use the machete, exhausted and with graying hair, while the hour of freedom finally arrives.
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