Leonardo Padura, Cuba

Leonardo Padura: “What was heard on 11J was a cry of desperation”

Madrid Spain.- “Life in Cuba is at a critical point,” declared Cuban writer Leonardo Padura in a recent interview with the Argentine newspaper The nation.

Regarding the scarcity, shortages and energy crisis that the country is going through, he stated that it is largely due to the drop in tourism caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the process of monetary ordering “that came to eliminate a double currency that existed in the country and that what it has done has been to promote the existence of four currencies: the Cuban peso, the US dollar, the euro and a currency that is only used to buy in certain stores that have been called MLC (Freely Convertible Currency) , stores that are not much better stocked than regular stores.”

“There are even many difficulties in obtaining medications for chronic diseases such as hypertension and hypothyroidism,” he added.

Asked about the popular protests of July 11, 2021 and the regime’s repression against the protesters, he replied: “As a result of those events I wrote an article called ‘A howl’, which I did not want to publish in any international media and I looked for a alternative Cuban media called The Young Cuba, a website. What was heard that July 11 when people took to the streets was a cry of desperation. And there I say that what happened was not going to be resolved with repression, it was not going to be resolved with punitive measures and reality has shown it.”

Arguing such approaches, Leonardo Padura added that it is necessary to find solutions… that it takes “a certain level of risk, courage and decision and to start with an economic territory that is affected by the limitations of the North American embargo, but which is also very affected by internal inefficiency.

“It would be necessary to begin by giving people what they deserve and what they need because so many years living in crisis cause enormous exhaustion. We started in crisis in 1990 and although there have been times when it seems that we are going to get our heads out of the water, then another wave comes and covers our heads again. Right now we have little chance of sticking our noses out in the middle of this crisis”, said the Princess of Asturias Award for Letters.

Regarding his decision to remain in Cuba, about which he has been questioned on numerous occasions, he explained: “I decided very early that I wanted to write about Cuba and write in Cuba, going through the difficulties that I experienced and sometimes receiving the reprimands that I have received and because I also remember that phrase that I have recently quoted a lot from Dulce María Loynaz, when they asked her: `Dulce, why didn’t you leave Cuba?’ And he gave an answer that I have appropriated because it seems great to me. He said, `Because I got there first.’”

Speaking about his next novel, decent people, in which he returns to his iconic character, detective Mario Conde, said: “Each time his (Mario Conde’s) look at the world is more disenchanted. The Cuban reality has led him to enhance that disenchantment and to the extent that he gets older and knows that his vital time is shrinking, as mine is shrinking. (…) If my generation still had a somewhat romantic relationship with this idea of ​​distance, for the next generation it was a matter of a simple decision: ‘I’m leaving because I’m leaving’”.

Padura, one of the contemporary authors most admired by Cubans, lamented that it is precisely on the Island where it is more difficult to obtain his books.

In this sense, Leonardo Padura explained: “The editions are almost, I would say, random and with very few copies, so the only thing that hurts me a little is that my contemporaries, my compatriots hardly have normal access to my books. (…) I have even won the critics’ prize in Cuba many times without those books having had a single review published on the island”.

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