Cuba’s Alfredo Guevara and the Game of Thrones

Dariela Aquique

Alfredo Guevara. Photo:

HAVANA TIMES — I have been meaning to write some comments on Haroldo Dilla’s post The Cavalcade of Cuba’s Alfredo Guevara for a long while. With a kind of guileless candor, Dilla expressed his disconcert over the megalomaniacal pillars of this man’s personality, traits he managed to conceal quite well with affected mannerisms and an altogether affable personality.

I am a fan of dramatic TV series and I am quite hooked by the series Game of Thrones. I have discovered that one can draw analogies between certain works of fiction and our society.

The mythical characters we see in the series have so many things in common with our government officials that one should not be taken aback by the public declarations made by a communist functionary at death’s door, let alone someone who belonged to the inner circle of the Castro government since the very beginning.

This gentleman did not take part in a war between kingdoms aimed at taking possession of an iron easy-chair in some remote, imaginary past, but he was a real person who used his ties to the leadership, and to Fidel Castro in particular, to his favor, since his years at the University of Havana.

Taking refuge in his condition as a “man of letters,” he found a way of surviving the country’s witch-hunts. What subterfuges did he use, or what things was he privy to, in order to achieve this? That’s something he did not say before dying. As a last gesture, he opted to assume the convenient role of a “critical companion” of the system’s.

When the eyes of the world were fixed on a Cuba that appears to be experiencing a transition, he sought to draw attention to himself by offering an interview to non-official journalists. It was, of course, the most convenient context for a catharsis.

In the excellent HBO series I’ve been watching, we see a singular character known as Varis, an eunuch who is part of the king’s council, a cautious, sarcastic and evasive man who uses numberless tricks to skirt all damaging developments and preserve his comfortable position. This mannered secondary character knows what lies beneath the castle rugs very well and how lifting these would reveal the underlying dirt.

One gets the same feeling watching this character and reading Guevara’s interview, where he flirts with the poetics of the intellectual and quotes Marguerite Yourcenar and Adriano’s Memories to wax lyrical about power and anti-power and comment on the not-so-adequate things Raul Castro is doing in his attempts to rebuild the nation’s economy.

There, he alludes to the impact that the imposition of Socialist Realism canons had on the design and management of Cuba’s cultural policy, and looks back on the polemics with the Party Secretary, Blas Roca, whom he once likened to Stalin and Beria – it’s like a television screenplay.

I believe that what angered Dilla the most were his remarks about the Cuban people, that people who, for decades, has raised its hands in a gigantic choreography to express support and agree with its government and system, a system that trained it but did not educate it, that taught it its duty but deprived it of its rights. For a very long time, it screened the only film it saw fit to do so, those epic images extolling study, work and military discipline – and the eternal enemy – that ICAIC, the institution Guevara headed, produced for the nation and the world at large.

Shortly before his death, Guevara declared: “I don’t believe my people are worth the effort (…) I believe in their potential, but not in their current nature (…)”

The formula of the “New Man” backfired on them – and blaming the imperfections and inadequacies of one’s work on the creation itself is as terrifying as the season finale of any TV series. It leaves you asking: what could come after this? This story has an open ending. It has no dragons, kings or white walkers, but that does not make it any less bloodcurdling.

One thought on “Cuba’s Alfredo Guevara and the Game of Thrones

  • According to the Cuban poet and novelist Reinaldo Arenas, Alfredo Guevara survived and even flourished during the “grey decade” during which the Party persecuted homosexuals, by betraying and denouncing other gays while maintaining firm ideological support for the regime.

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