Leonardo Padura anticipates a new migratory wave in his country

In “Cuban writer Leonardo Padura anticipates a new migratory wave in his country,” EFE reports that “The novelist believes that, given the polarization that exists in Cuba, ‘an open, comprehensive dialogue is needed.’” See El Nuevo Día for full article in Spanish.

The current situation in Cuba could provoke a new migratory wave, observed Cuban writer Leonardo Padura in an interview with the EFE Agency from Lisbon, where he reflected on the lessons of the pandemic and considered that we have surrendered to [state] power spaces of control that will be difficult to regain.

Padura (Havana, 1955), who received the Princess of Asturias Award for Literature in 2015, spoke from the Lisbon Book Fair, where he presented a Portuguese edition of the first novels centered on his famous detective Mario Conde, published in the 90s.

Portugal has not yet received his latest novel, “Como polvo en el viento” [Like Dust in the Wind], which deals with exile, a theme that is often present in his literature. It is a theme, he assured, that will continue to appear in his work because he believes that many young people “who have become totally disenchanted with the Cuban process” are going to choose this path, given the situation in the country.

“We are foreseeing that there will be a migratory wave again,” said the journalist and screenwriter, who said that Cuba is experiencing “deficiencies of many kinds and a very complicated social tension that allow for few solutions in the short term, in the present situation of the country at the economic, social and political levels.” The problem, he said, is that they have nowhere to go. “In the case of Spain, it was quite generous in granting visas to Cubans, and now there are practically none.”

He does not plan to leave. “I need Cuba to write,” he insisted, because he considers that he cannot be “anything other than a Cuban writer.”


The novelist believes that, given the polarization that exists in Cuba, “an open, comprehensive dialogue is necessary” in order to find solutions and not to impose an absolute truth. “Those fundamentalisms,” he said, “frighten me a great deal.”

On other occasions, he has assured that Cuba’s problems must be resolved among Cubans. Now, with Afghanistan in mind, he insisted that each country must try to find solutions to its own problems. “What has happened in Afghanistan shows that many times the solutions that go through interventions, through the application of policies from a military or economic power, in the end can cause great disasters,” he lamented.

And he used a joke that he recently read to sum it up: “It said that it had taken who knows how many millions of dollars and 20 years for some Talibans to replace other Talibans, and this is what has happened in Afghanistan, unfortunately. It has been an example of how necessary it is for each country to try to find—and I know that it is very difficult—the solutions to its own conflicts.”


Padura pointed out that he is beginning to regain “normality” at fairs such as Lisbon, although he believes that the use of digital media should be maintained as part of the promotion of culture to reach more public.

But the pandemic has left deeper lessons for the author of “El hombre que amaba a los perros” [The Man Who Loved Dogs]. And also fears. “Due to the fear of death, we have given the governments, many powers, some spaces of control that later are difficult to regain as forms of freedom. It is already known that when you give power the possibility to control you, it is difficult to reclaim it later,” he admitted. And he recalled: “Long ago, Lenin said that democracy was beautiful but control was better.”

Although he does not know if the pandemic will be reflected in his own work, the Cuban writer believes that more literature will be created on “the critical moments of humanity,” but with a notion that is sometimes forgotten “in a very silly way”: the smallness of human beings.

“A small, sickly, ugly molecule has put the world economy and the stability of everything we have achieved in check,” he stated. It is a literature that—when you are living one of those “critical moments” of humanity—can be difficult to digest.

Padura acknowledged that when he began to reread “Ensayo sobre la ceguera” [Essay on Blindness] by José Saramago, he had to stop in the middle of it. “What I was reading affected me a lot about in view of we were experiencing,” he explained.


Coming to Portugal to speak about the re-edition of his tetralogy of the four seasons starring Mario Conde—published in two volumes by Porto Editora under the title “Quarteto de Havana”—is a challenge for Padura. “It forces me to put myself in the role of the writer that I was 25 years ago,” he said, although it is “very satisfying.”

The novels gained renewed success when they were brought to the small screen in the miniseries “Four Seasons in Havana,” with a script adapted by his wife, Lucía López Coll, and by Padura himself. A job that is a “tremendous challenge”: “it is like taking a leap without a net underneath, because you have to change not only language, but also artistic expression.”

With the project of a new novel in hand, set in 2016, Padura hopes to return to Portugal next year to present his latest publication, “Como polvo en el viento” [Like Dust in the Wind].

Translated by Ivette Romero. For original article, in Spanish, see https://www.elnuevodia.com/entretenimiento/cultura/notas/el-escritor-cubano-leonardo-padura-anticipa-una-nueva-ola-migratoria-en-su-pais/

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