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  HOME | Cuba

Leonardo Padura: Though It Seems Cuba Hasn’t Changed, “It Really Has”

BARCELONA – In the midst of what he calls a “European tour,” Cuban writer Leonardo Padura reflected in an interview with EFE on the situation his country is going through and said that, though “Cuba is a society that apparently has not changed, it really has.”

Padura said that now when people ask him or his wife, Lucia Lopez Coll, about how things stand on the island after the recent turn of events such as the visit of U.S. President Barack Obama, and if that is sending some kind of message, they answer “Yes, but no.”

In his opinion, “today in Cuba you can’t understand anything in black and white, and if you say it’s a communist hell or a socialist paradise, you’re missing all the nuances.”

He said that in the last six or seven years, since Fidel Castro left power, “small changes have been accumulating that add up to a significant change,” for example now you can get a cell phone line, “a very simple thing but banned until recently,” and the number of small private businesses is growing.

He also sees as significant the fact that “the cursed exit permit has been eliminated from our passports and they’re good for two years, so if we have the money to buy a plane ticket, we can go to Burundi if we want.”

The winner of the 2015 Princess of Asturias Award for Literature and creator of the Mario Conde police procedural saga said that until the 1990s, Cuban society was very homogeneous.

“We were all equally poor, but now our social fabric is expanding and a public employee with a salary of 500 pesos (some $27) a month does not live like the owner of a restaurant that takes in some 1,000 euros ($1,117) a day. They live in different realities and material conditions,” he said.

Padura believes the next determining factor will occur in the year 2018, “when the historic generation leaves power.”

About Cuban youth, he said that “today they’re much more like the youth of the world than my youth was like that of the world in my day, in the sense that “they all want the latest mobile phone or a fashionable Dolce & Gabbana T-shirt.”

Asked if these changes will influence his writing, Leonardo Padura said that “if society is on the move it’s obvious that it nourishes you, it gives you plots and stories you can use.”

 

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