Interview with Cuban Writer Armando Añel

Armando Añel

By Javier Moreno

HAVANA TIMES – Armando Añel is a writer, journalist, and editor of Cuban origin. He currently runs the Neo Club Ediciones publishing house.  He has published approximately 20 books under his name.

After winning an Essay Competition of the German foundation Friedrich Naumann, with Perfiles Liberales magazine, he traveled to Europe in March 2000, where he lived in Spain and England until he went to live in the United States in 2007.

How did you start out as a writer?

As a child, I would sometimes make notes mixed with drawings based on the adventure books I read. I’d recreate the spirit of what I’d read and added my own plots. I wrote my first poem in a prison cell, after escaping Military Conscription, at 18 years old. Ironically enough, we can say that repression threw me into Poetry’s arms. Although I’m sure that I would have ended up writing professionally sooner or later, of course. You know the saying, “nobody can take away what’s meant for you.” Then, I met writer Manuel Gayol Mecias and other people who I began to share literature with and to learn a little more from.

What subjects do you regularly deal with and why?

I am becoming more and more passionate about existential matters, and especially the point about the nature of reality. After many years asking myself what pretty much everyone asks themselves at some point, what the hell am I doing here? who am I? I ended up having the feeling that it really all just boils down to a matter of perspective. You should move away from traditional perspectives, which are allegedly “objective”, to reach an approximate answer from a sufficiently independent point of view, drawing on your imagination and humility. On the other hand, I never stop dealing with key issues in this situation, such as the search for freedom and justice. I still believe that justice is a right for the capable as much as it is for the incapable.

What do you believe the advantages and disadvantages are of using AI or artificial intelligence?

It’s pretty much all an advantage. I’d even take the “pretty much” out. It’s a quantum leap forward, and freely accessible to the public on top of that. Many AI platforms on the Internet are partially or completely free, or they offer very accessible monthly fees. Of course, it should be used responsibly, like with everything in life. In this initial phase, when it’s still in diapers, AI should be used as an assistant, but never as a project director or lead. I am mainly talking about the field of literature and editing, which is what I work with and have experience in. I’ve seen the mistakes it can make.

What would your feasible Cuba be like?

I suspect that Cuba will only be feasible, that is to say viable in the long-term as a country or State, if its picks up on its multicultural, cosmopolitan roots again. It’s a kaleidoscope that they’ve tried to standardize, put into a nationalist straitjacket even before 1959. That’s why the country is always in a constant struggle, there’s unrest. It’s been a sociocultural operation against Nature. Cubans have fallen into a trap in their attempt to build a refuge. This colossal mistake needs to be fixed and the country needs to be reestablished so that we Cubans are finally the tourists. Everybody makes mistakes, but everybody also learns, or should learn, from their mistakes. 

Do you believe there are tangible solutions that can be implemented in Cuba today?

Solutions form part of evolution. You can’t stop them from happening. We, humanity, homo sapiens or whatever you want to call it, have got where we are today, thanks to solutions. Impermanence is a universal and inevitable law, as Buddha himself teaches us. No state can remain unchanged over time, no matter how stubborn or powerful it may be. It transforms sooner or later. Or is transformed. Over the course of this year, we’ve been developing an audiovisual project on YouTube, “La novela que libero a Cuba”, which will be turned into a book. The key feature of this project is that it combines literature and art with political activism in real time, proposing, analyzing, and even implementing solutions publicly. While lots of people have lost their faith in change, both inside and outside of Cuba, I trust that we will have tangible results.

Future plans

I’m focusing more and more on audiovisual work. For example, on this project that I’ve just told you about, “La novela que libero a Cuba”. I’m also taking advantage of the new tools and opportunitues that we have been given by the availability of Artifical Intelligence. It can be very useful in the process of individual and group liberation. It’ll be fascinating.


*He has been a columnist for newspapers such as Tiempos del Mundo, Libertad Digital and Diario de las Americas.His books in Spanish can be purchased on Amazon.