[Marxism] Leonardo Padura: "Today Cuba is a suspense novel"

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Fri Nov 9 01:58:26 MST 2007

"Today Cuba is a suspense novel"


A CubaNews translation by Ana Portela. Edited by Walter Lippmann

In detective novels by Leonardo Padura crimes are an excuse to
dissect society and question power. “People aren’t killed for no
reason, they are killed for other reasons”, he admits in a cloud of
smoke from a Partagás in the National Hotel, a good place to talk
about his books and about Cuba … almost the same thing.

These salons have seen numerous artists and politicians but none as
glamorous as Lucky Luciano and Meyer Lansky, famous gangsters and
clients of the hotel, who he refers to in his last novel. “These damn
guys are always attractive,” assuring “the Mafiosi have somehow
represented the possibility of violating conventions, something that,
way down deep inside, all of us would like to do”.

A good Habano, a good cup of coffee and a good rum “can be the
beginning of many things in life and of many good things”, he
defends. An if one enjoys them in the Nacional, all the better. In
yesterday’s fog, the assassin comes to the Parisien, the hotel’s
nightclub, to see one of the last performances of the star, Violeta
del Río. “The Nacional is marked by fame and music, by the ghost of
the Mafia and the glamour of the fifties: The Havana of the fifties
continues to be a reference that has not been erased in spite of
reality and in spite of time”.

He savors the cigar more than the drinks (I still find it hard to see
it like poison) and in his smoky daydream he returns to his life. 
I have left my profession as a journalist in Juventud Rebelde for 17
years; since then I have concentrated on writing. He created the
personage, Mario Conde, an atypical detective of the Cuban police
that he has used to disembowel the current story (and less
pleasurable) of his latest novel. “One of the things that worries me
most is the children of my generation that are leaving Cuba. In
general, the best leave, the most intelligent, the better prepared.
They are the children of an historical exhaustion…”.

At 52 he is married and written eight novels. Padura believes that
the future of Cuba is decided now. After the illness of Fidel Castro,
the magic word in Cuba is “change” but change doesn’t arrive yet… “We
are living a suspense novel: everyone is waiting in anticipation of
what could happen but no one knows how and when”. From a mural Lucky
Luciano, with slanted hat, seems to smile and wink at us. A sip of
coffee, silence… “People have struggled a lot, they have sacrificed
themselves much to die at the shore”. His commitment is with the
unluckier Cubans. He still believes that a utopia is necessary, but a
new utopia that does not make the same mistakes of the past: “the
main one, the lack of democracy”.

Padura, do you feel like throwing in the towel? A column smoke rises
from his mouth and drifts to the geometric ceiling of the Nacional:
“If someone is going to throw in the towel, they can only throw it on
their heads and that is not an option”.

The waiter comes around: More rum?

Hotel Nacional de La Habana

- Two Partagás Coronas: 11 pesos (8,1 euros)

- Two coffees: 4 pesos (2,9 euros)

- Two añejo rums: 6 pesos (4,4 euros)

- Total: 21 pesos (15,50 euros)

© Diario EL PAÍS S.L. - Miguel Yuste 40 - 28037 Madrid [España] -
Tel. 91 337 8200

© Prisacom S.A. - Ribera del Sena, S/N - Edificio APOT - Madrid
[España] - Tel. 91 353 7900


Walter Lippmann
Havana, Cuba
"Un paraíso bajo el bloqueo"

More information about the Marxism mailing list