Renowned Cuban Poet Resigns from Cuba’s Artists & Writers Association

By Cafe Fuerte

Cuban poet Rafael Alcides Pérez.  Photo: Cafefuerte.
Cuban poet Rafael Alcides Pérez. Photo: Cafefuerte.

HAVANA TIMES — Poet Rafael Alcides Perez, one of the most prestigious of contemporary Cuban intellectuals, publicly announced he has resigned from the Association of Cuban Writers and Artists (UNEAC) in protest against the government restrictions he is being subjected to.

“In view of the fact that my books aren’t allowed into Cuba – neither by customs nor the mail -, which amounts to prohibiting my work as a writer, I hereby resign from UNEAC,” Alcides wrote in a letter sent to Miguel Barnet, president of the institution, parliamentary deputy and member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party.

The 81-year-old writer also sent Barnet the commemorative medal given him on UNEAC’s 50th anniversary in 2011, saying his decision was “final.”

In recent years, the poet had assumed postures that are openly critical of the country’s situation and had distanced himself from the official discourse, assuming a commitment to the cause of human rights and civil liberties. He has worked with the Estado de Sats project, which gathers activists of the Cuban opposition.

A Renowned Figure

A prominent public figure of Cuba’s “50s generation,” Rafael Alcides is considered one of the most widely recognized and important of Cuban and Latin American poets alive today.

He is the author of numerous books, including the well-known Himnos de montaña (“Mountain Hymns, 1961), Gitana (“Gypsy Woman”, 1962), La pata de palo (“The Wooden Leg”, 1967) and Agradecido como un perro (“As Grateful as a Dog”, 1983), a classic of conversational poetry that earned him Cuba’s Premio de la Critica (“Critics’ Award”) that year.

He is also the author of Nadie (“No-one”, 1993), Noche en el recuerdo (“A Night to Remember”, 1989), and Y se mueren, y vuelven, y se mueren (“They Die and Come Back and Die Again”, 1989). His works are part of numerous poetic anthologies published in Cuba and Latin America.

In 1965, he obtained an honorary mention in the Casa de las Americas writing contest for his novel Contracastro (“Counter-Castro”).

Born in 1933 in the town of Barrancas, Bayamo, in what is today the province of Granma, he completed his senior secondary studies at Holguin’s Secondary Institute and at Havana’s Escuelas Pias (“Pious Schools”). He studied industrial chemistry at Havana’s Arts and Vocational School (1950) and then travelled in Mexico and the United States.

Poetry in Context

Alcides was a highly renowned radio producer, director and writer. He hosted the radio program En su lugar la poesia (“Poetry in Context”), where young Cuban artists were exposed to the public.

In 2011, he received Spain’s Bodegas Olarra – Café Breton Literary Award. His most recent book, Un cuento de hadas que termina mal (“A Fairy Tale Without a Happy Ending”), was published this year in Logroño, Spain.

Below is the entire text of his letter of resignation from UNEAC.

Havana, June 30, 2014

Miguel Barnet, Poet

President of the Association of Cuban Artists and Writers, Havana

Dear Friend,

In view of the fact that my books are not allowed into Cuba – neither by customs nor the mail-, which amounts to prohibiting my work as a writer, I hereby resign from UNEAC.

In this envelope, you will also find the commemorative 50th anniversary medal given me as a founding member of UNEAC. What remains of that big old house [the UNEAC headquarters] which I once made my own are my memories, and these, being personal, depart with me. Among these memories are those of the good friends I made among the members of the Association back then, treasures of my youth that are all that remain of that great, failed dream, people I love though they do not think the way I do, and who love me also, even if they dare not visit me.

That is all, Miguel. Anticipating different interpretations of my resignation that could omit the text of this resignation, which is final, I have taken the liberty of making it public.

Rafael Alcides

3 thoughts on “Renowned Cuban Poet Resigns from Cuba’s Artists & Writers Association

  • Glad that Havana Times is translating Cafe Fuerte! Probably the best Cuba news source around! Founder Wilfredo Cancio Isla who is now one of the editors of Diario Las Americas is one smart cookie!

  • sad for him; sad for all of us believers

  • The Castros ‘thought’ police really screwed the pooch with this guy. The only real question is why it took him so long to grow a pair?

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