Cuban Artist and Designer Rolando Pulido Dies at 58

A painter and designer, in 1980 and only 18 years old, Rolando Pulido decided to leave Cuba during the exodus known in the US as the Mariel Boatlift. (Natacha Herrera / El Imparcial Digital)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, 16 January 2021 — Cuban designer and artist Rolando Pulido died this Friday in New York at the age of 58. The artist, who decorated emblematic cultural spaces and was a great promoter of the cause of democracy on the island, died in a hospital in the Bronx, in the city where he lived.

“Our beloved brother, Rolando Pulido, rested last night, grateful from the heart for all the solidarity that we all transmitted to him until the end,” announced emigrant writer Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo on his Facebook account.

A painter and designer, in 1980 and at only 18 years old, Pulido decided to leave Cuba during the exodus of the Mariel Boatlift. Shortly after declaring his intention to emigrate, he was the victim of a massive act of repudiation where, as he recalled in testimonies and interviews, he was “humiliated and severely beaten.”

“The Cuba I knew I did not like one bit. It had been the place where, since I was born, they tried to indoctrinate with an ideology that I did not like, it was not what my parents would have preferred for me,” he explained years later, recalling his early days in New York.

“The country where a foreigner is the only one who has the right to be free. The country that beat me when I wanted to leave. My country, which forbids me to touch its soil,” he reiterated. Among the most iconic works of his career are the designs of the Blue Note jazz club, Cooper’s Bar, Strand Bookstore, and also some of the Saturday Night Live stages.

Starting in 2007, Pulido became enthusiastically involved with the independent blogosphere that was taking its first steps on the island. Most of the posters, visual campaigns and logos associated with the phenomenon of digital blogs were born from his creativity.

His activism on the networks helped to give visibility to numerous Cuban reporters. “For many years I looked for the most effective way to denounce the atrocities that occur in Cuba on the part of the government, and I found that it was through my graphic work,” he said. “Today thanks to the internet, I can share my work with other Cubans in many parts of the world, even within the island, and we can do projects together.”

Dedicated, supportive and talented, that’s how his friends and collaborators remember Rolando Pulido, a designer who “took the denunciation of the Cuban situation to the level of beauty and visually attractiveness,” as an Internet user said this Saturday on hearing the news of his death.

Translator’s note: This translator had the great pleasure of knowing Rolando and mourns his passing. This link shows some of the art and design work Rolando did for Cuban freedom.


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