Ode to Caballero / Ángel Santiesteban

Rufo Caballero won admiration for his objective and perceptive criticism. All the artists understood, even when his judgment was negative toward the work in question, that the only thing he worried about, and defended above all else, was creativity, which he respected to the point of adoration. Whoever managed to discern and assume his point of view generally rose in office.

He became a popular character through TV programs and his appearance on a video clip, made so we could share it with the rest of the social spectrum. He balanced his role as a sharp critic with the capability to be sympathetic, and, especially, with a language that made no concessions, he knew that the spectator would understand the reasoning behind his points of view.

On the launching of my book Happy Are Those Who Cry, he told me beautiful things that I won’t repeat, I keep them to myself to call up in depressed moments, and I remember his sharp observations in each literary task.

In the days when I opened my blog and the state launched its institutional and repressive attacks, he met a mutual friend in Cienfuegos, who asked him which country I had gone to. He responded, none, I was still in Havana, and just a few days before we’d had a conversation and, as an aside, I let him know how hard it would be for me to live somewhere else.

Rufo was surprised because he had no idea that these truths were said from inside, “an artist, especially, knows all that he loses when he confronts the system.”

Afterward we saw each other on some corner in Vedado and were happy, he told me he was “a living ghost or a badly buried dead person,” and we laughed. Later he was more himself, he let me know that he respected my point of view because he understood that it was a personal necessity for me to communicate, to get myself out of the poison the majority was swallowing without breathing so as to suffer as little as possible.

Now that Rufo Caballero is not here physically, we have to be satisfied with his spirit, his vast works, and his proven goodness.

22 January 2011