Wendy Guerra: The Most Unbearable Thing in Cuba is Lack of a Free Press / EFE, 14ymedio

The writer Wendy Guerra. (EFE)
The writer Wendy Guerra. (EFE)

14ymedio biggerEFE (from 14ymedio), Barcelona, 4 May 2016 — The Cuban writer Wendy Guerra, who has just published the novel Domingo de Revolution (Revolution Sunday), a sort of autofiction on her imagined Cuba, said with regards to the future of her country, “to be healed, the wounds must be named.”

Guerra has revealed that she began writing the novel on the death of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, to whom it is dedicated and whose death she received as ‘the death of an intellectual left,” and she finished it when Raul Castro reached an agreement with United States president Barack Obama.

“Obama, an African-American, but also, in the end, an Afro-Cuban, came to the island, charmed us, and now we have to find another enemy, one who is not Cuban,” adds Guerra, who was born in 1970 in Havana.

The writer, who continues to live in Cuba, considers herself fortunate to have been a student at Garcia Marquez’s workshop “How to tell a story,” in San Antonio de los Baños: “Gabo gave me the gift of his literature, as he did to everyone, but to me he also gave the gift of a trip to the world.”

Her relationship with Gabo and with Silvio Rodriguez has been “the only proof of democracy” she has had in Cuba, she confesses, and adds, “They have a way of talking with me and my own point of view, and I want my country to work this way.”

Guerra believes that “blogs and local papers have exposed many pains with this provincialism, but we have to prepare something and have something to talk about anywhere, because if we don’t we get together and we can’t put forward what our country should be.”

Aware that in Cuba “they will not allow us that,” Wendy Guerra writes these books, which are “spaces for dialogue.”

During her presentation in Barcelona, Wendy Guerra did not tire of demanding “dialogue and dialogue” and she hopes that, as has been said many times, “in the future, the Cuban exile and Cubans on the island are condemned to understand each other.”

The author of Everyone Leaves, winner of the 2006 Bruguera prize, believes that something is changing in Cuba and pointed to a possible turning point that occurred “at the moment (Leonardo) Padura asked why Trotsky’s murderer went to live to Cuba.”

She expressed her gratitude to her Spanish publisher and its Latin American branches, because “they are greatly helping the discussion in Cuba of what cannot be discussed,” and “the value of Domingo de Revolución has been to find a poetic voice to explain such difficult things.”

Domingo de Revolución (Anagram) began as a short story, which was entitled “The Spy” and sent to Ana Maria Moix, who invited her to turn the story into a novel.

The starting point was “the belief that there was a CIA agent on the island, while the exile thought he was being trained by Cuban intelligence to blow up the intelligentsia in exile.”

Guerra speaks of her country from autofiction and plays with the reader using the confusion between the author and the protagonist of her novel, Cleo, a young woman poet living in Havana who has found international success and who narrates the end of a long revolutionary process of nearly 60 years.

“Cleo could have existed from the 60s to now; she is a contemporary Joan of Arc, a domestic heroine,” summarizes Guerra, who shares with her character, “a great respect for the exile, because it hurts us,” but distances herself from her protagonist: “I am neither a heroine nor a victim, I have a great deal of fear.”

Of the difficulties Guerra experiences in her country, the least bearable is “not having a press that reports the reality,” and when she travels to promote her novels outside the country, she feels Spanish journalists represent “their own point of view, in the face of this absence at home.”

As a good poet, she uses lyrical images to describe her narrative. “It’s like when, at the end of summer, you go back to a deserted beach filled with footprints and in my writing I try to identify these footprints, to know who they belonged to.”