The decline of the so-called Cuban cultural renaissance started when Virgilio Pinera came down the ladder of the Czech airplane that brought him back from Brussels via Prague. He deplaned with mincing steps and, fluttering like a tropical butterfly suddenly sprung alive from a collector's case, stopped briefly and then kneeled and leaned forward to kiss the red Cuban soil - only to smack the tarmac instead. (This gesture proved to be some sort of near-miss-cum-hubris for, you see, the runway had recently been covered with a Russian blacktop.) Though it didn't really all begin then, but a few months earlier when Lunes, the literary supplement of the newspaper Revolucion, on which Virgilio Pinera was one of the principal collaborators (the word was usually meant in its second sense), was banned and closed down for good. Only it didn't begin then either, but when they censored and sequestered PM, a documentary sponsored by Lunes that didn't have any political content to warrant the seizure. That was really the beginning of the end. But let's start at the very beginning - which was when dictator Batista decided to flee instead of fighting and the 26th of July Movement took over the Government in the name of the Revolution, its martyrs and the poor people of Cuba.
LRB 4 June 1981 | PDF Download