On April 28, 2009, as part of the 50 year anniversary commemoration for Casa de las Américas, its president, Roberto Fernández Retamar, was decorated with the José Martí Order. The establishment of this honor pays homage to Fernández Retamar´s extraordinary contributions to Cuban culture, his outstanding work as a researcher, poet, editor, critic, cultural advocate, essayist, and professor of several generations (he is professor emeritus of the University of Havana), all of which have earned him distinctions and awards in the national and international spheres.
A prolific writer, better known in the United States for his Introduction to José Martí and his collection of essays, Calibán and Other Essays, Fernández Retamar has been bestowed with many outstanding prizes for his work. In Cuba he won the National Prize of Poetry (1952), the Rúben Darío Latin American Prize (1980), and the Felix Varela Order (1981), the National Prize of Literature (1989), among others. He also received the Nikola Vaptsarov International Prize for Poetry in Bulgaria (1989), the Pérez Bonalde International Prize for Poetry from Argentina (1989), and the Official Medal of Arts and Letters, conferred by France in 1994. In 1998, he was bestowed with the Orden de Mayo in Argentina, and in 2000, the International Institute of Ibero-American Literature devoted a volume to his series Críticas.
Homero Acosta, Secretary of the State Council, read the resolution to bestow the Order praising Fernández Retamar´s deep social engagement and his fruitful leadership in the preservation and support of Caribbean and Latin American culture through his presidency of the respected cultural institution.
The program included the unveiling of a commemorative stamp for the 50th anniversary of Casa de las Américas, which will begin to circulate in Cuba´s postal system this year and a performance by the renowned singer Omara Portuondo.
In his acceptance speech, Fernández Retamar gave tribute to important literary figures that influenced his trajectory as a scholar, writer, and subsequently, president of Casa. In particular, he dedicated the entire event to the memory of Haydée Santamaría, one of Cuba´s most respected revolutionary leaders and founder of Casa de las Américas.
For full article (in Spanish), see http://laventana.casa.cult.cu/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=4834
For Fernández Retamar´s acceptance speech (in Spanish), see http://laventana.casa.cult.cu/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=4835