Archiving Censorship in Latin America

Cuba (1959 – 1975)

The Cuban Revolution sparked a transnational debate on the political roles of literature and intellectuals in the context of social change. Starting from 1971, the cultural authorities of the Cuban government intensified their policies, leading to the establishment of a binary framework that was hard to escape. Writers were expected to produce either revolutionary or anti-revolutionary literature, with their lives and works being judged based on their alignment with the social goals of the revolution. As the State became the primary publisher and printer on the island, writers became increasingly dependent on it.

During this period, varying levels of strictness or leniency were employed in implementing censorship measures. These measures included the closure of magazines, destruction of manuscripts, removal of books from public libraries, release of redacted versions of books, vetoing or segregation of ‘anti-revolutionary’ artists, or exclusion of authors from literary dictionaries. Many writers and critics questioned the boundaries of concepts like ‘revolution’, or ‘intellectual commitment’, but the government’s unwillingness to tolerate dissent pushed them into exile or self-censorship. While this presented challenges for authors seeking to publish their works, the Castro regime utilized existing cultural institutions and offered grants and government positions to intellectuals who shared its views.

We displayed several authors who experienced an ‘editorial silence’ by the State, the latter being the only legitimized printer in the island. Fiction writers such as Guillermo Cabrera Infante (Tres tristes tigres and Vista del amanecer en el trópico), Hilda Perera (El sitio de nadie; novela) and scholar and narrator Lydia Cabrera (Porqué … : cuentos negros de Cuba and El monte, igbo, finda, ewe orisha, vititi nfinda. (Notas sobre las religiones, la magia, las supersticiones y el folklore de los negros criollos y del pueblo de Cuba)). Playwriters like Antón Arrufat (Teatro: El caso se investiga and En claro); poetry writers like Jose Kozer (Bajo este cien), Emma Pérez (Niña y el viento de mañana, poemas), and Gastón Baquero (Memorial de un testigo).

Education Armando Hart and Fidel Castro reviews a speech at the rally in the "José Martí" Revolution Square to proclaim Cuba an Illiteracy Free Territory
Next to Minister of Education Armando Hart, Fidel Castro reviews a speech at the rally in the “José Martí” Revolution Square to proclaim Cuba an Illiteracy Free Territory.

Book Covers Displayed on the Exhibit