Polarization in Cuba Is Part of a General Crisis, Says Academic Andres Ordonez

Mexican academic Andrés Ordóñez speaks during an interview with EFE, on May 18, 2023, in Mexico City. (EFE/Isaac Esquivel)

14ymedio biggerEFE (via 14ymedio), Mexico, 20 May 2023 — The Mexican academic Andrés Ordóñez regretted this Saturday the radicalisms in the debates on the Cuban Revolution and considered that they are not something exclusive to the Island but a trend in today’s world.

“We are living in times of polarization. That intolerance, that propensity to disqualify the other, is not exclusive to Cubans; it is part of the crisis in the West. We are in a very difficult time,” said Dr. Ordóñez in an interview with EFE.

The essayist, poet and diplomat will present in the coming days in Mexico his new book, El mito y el desencanto [Myth and Disenchantment], an essay on literature and power in revolutionary Cuba, in which he analyzes the role of writers on the Island and refers to key moments in the country’s history.

“One of the purposes of my book is not to disqualify; my interest is to understand each other from the limitations of my immigration, but also from my deep love for that country,” said Ordóñez, who was a diplomat in Havana during the presidency of Vicente Fox (2000-2006).

The author traces the Cuban literary canon in his work and ends at four of the main novelists of the Island: Norberto Fuentes, Leonardo Padura, Pedro Juan Gutiérrez and Abel Prieto.

The book , published by Planeta, pauses at key moments in the history of Cuba and takes a tour through Cuban literature.

The work considers as moments of rupture the case of the poet Heberto Padilla, who was forced to indict himself as a counterrevolutionary in 1971, and the shooting, in 1989, of General Arnaldo Ochoa, one of the most beloved heroes in the country.

“There are two very important facts in Cuban culture; the Padilla case and the trial of Ochoa and his followers. There was a rupture in the argument of the Revolution that had been so powerful, in terms of moral authority,” he said.

In referring to the art of writing novels, Ordóñez accepts that approaching works of fiction will, in the future, be a way to learn about the history of a country in which journalism is controlled by the government and only some independent media can dissent.

Ordóñez highlights in his book how the novelists Fuentes, Padura, Gutiérrez and Prieto, among others, reflect in their works of fiction the reality of the Island, but he believes that there are still issues to be addressed.

“There are gaps. For example, the great novel about the war in Angola has not been written; Padura and others touch on the subject, but indirectly. The Angola phenomenon is something that the protagonists of Cuban culture either do not yet have the critical distance to address it, or it implies something painful,” he says.

For officialdom in Havana, anyone who has a contrary opinion is a “worm,” a despicable being who is not just against the Government, but against the country.

Similar is the attitude of the radicals of the opposition, adorers of Donald Trump, who describe anyone who disagrees with them as “communist,” a major offense in their vocabulary, with whom he proposes to dialogue.

Ordóñez regrets the polarization, but he is an optimist and believes that there are people on both sides willing to open spaces for agreement and look for a better future for a country in which few things work and the leaders have a critical spirit equal to zero.

“I don’t see it as impossible (the possibility of a Miami-Havana dialogue). There is above all in the young people of the enlightened, more cultivated sector, a different attitude, each with their own point of view. It is possible to build bridges. I’m an optimist in that,” he insisted.

Translated by Regina Anavy 


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