Julio Martinez’s Last Stunt / Reinaldo Escobar

Julio, left; Reinaldo, right.

In the summer of 1991 the poet and journalist Julio Martinez asked me to write the forward for a book he titled “Red Acrobatics poems against opportunism.” At that time he was still working for the newspaper Trabajadores — Workers — and fortunately I had already been fired from Juventud Rebelde — Rebel Youth. That notebook was printed on a mimeograph belonging to the Cuban Journalists Union (UPEC), on sheets of gazette paper. For the presentation, which should have been held at UPEC itself, Julio invited the poet Raul Rivero and everything would have come off had it not been for the “timely” intervention of Lazaro Barredo, who was then vice president of that institution and who, after reading the content of the poetry collection, deemed the tie to UPEC unacceptable, in that case.

Days later it occurred to Julio to release the book in a performance art event, and that’s how we came to slip into the Cuba Pavilion and hang a piñata filled with rolled up copies of Red Acrobatics. Amid a small group of pre-warned accomplices, along with inadvertent passersby who took the action as an official activity, we invited people to pull on the strings and take a copy.

Afterwards, Julio understood it was too naive to blame the opportunists for the problems we suffered, and along with other friends he was among the first to inaugurate independent journalism in Cuba. That ended in exile, where he was able to print another book without too many problems, but with less excitement. He then began to call himself Julio San Francisco, which is the name under which, I’m told, he just died in Spain.

10 February 2012