The writer Leonardo Padura poses during an interview with EFE in Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic).  EFE/ Orlando Barria
The writer Leonardo Padura poses during an interview with EFE in Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic). EFE/ Orlando Barria

Santo Domingo, Jul 25 (EFE).- In Cuba "we have hit bottom", "we are experiencing one of the deepest crises" and, more than food or light, "today what is most lacking is hope," he affirms in an interview with EFE the writer Leonardo Padura, chronicler of the Cuban social reality through his work.

The writer Leonardo Padura poses during an interview with EFE in Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic).  EFE/ Orlando Barria

"It is like another crest of a long crisis (...) We have hit bottom and the worst thing is that, if at other times there was still some hope that things would improve, I believe that what is most lacking today is not the food, fuel, electricity or coffee, what is most lacking is hope," says Padura in Santo Domingo, where he is meeting to present the reprint of his book "Los rostros de la salsa" and give workshops to young people.

The writer Leonardo Padura poses during an interview with EFE in Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic).  EFE/ Orlando Barria

A Cuba where "control and fear is an industry that does work", as was demonstrated by the repression of the 2021 protests: "It was an explosion, a scream that Cuban society gave and the only thing that happened was that the controls and the mechanisms of repression intensified, intensified (...) It has also served to let people know that if they go out into the street and break a window, they can go to jail for five, seven, ten years".


Padura says that it is not easy to write in Cuba, but he acknowledges that his situation is very different from that of other authors. His books come directly from his computer to his publishers in Barcelona, ​​which is a "great advantage": "It guarantees me the publication and that my book will not go through any filter of Cuban institutional censorship" .

In addition to censorship, in Cuba there is self-censorship, a "defense mechanism," in his opinion, even "more humiliating, an exercise in personal castration."

But the authors look for alternatives to write and publish, with strategies in the style of Carlos Saura's first cinema, "full of metaphors and symbols", or looking for publishers in Spain, Mexico, Argentina and Colombia.

At this time "it is almost impossible for a normal writer to publish, unless it is a political propaganda book that has the support of some instances," says this author, who has accumulated awards such as the Princess of Asturias Award for Literature, the National of Literature of Cuba and the Order of Arts and Letters in France.


For many, Padura's work will serve as a newspaper library in the future to find out what the Cuban reality has been like. "I have done this exercise unconsciously at first and then I have realized that it was a requirement of that literature itself, to make a kind of chronicle of contemporary Cuban life," she explains.

But this journalist has tried to ensure that his chronicle does not have a political character so that "it does not lose the support on which it was written" if the situation changes and he has preferred to elaborate it "from the social and human point of view of the personal traumas that these situations" in Cuba.

"The powers try to erase from the past the moments that are inconvenient and only keep those that in some way reaffirm their position (...) That is the reality of a totalitarian system," he stresses.

Faced with this, Padura tries to preserve social reality through his main character and protagonist of his detective series, Mario Conde: "I think that in a few years the vision of Cuba in those novels will be much closer to what that has been the reality that the Cuban newspapers have expressed".


And in this period that Mario Conde goes through in the novels, from 1989 to 2016, both this character and Padura himself are not the same, "the passage of time inevitably changes people."

Mario Conde has evolved, "he has definitely become more pessimistic, with more aftertastes, with more intention of preserving memory."

Through Conde, Padura, who reveals that he has an idea for a new novel with some notes, analyzes the aging process itself, since "it is inevitable that, as time goes by and we have more of the past than the future, in some way we we become a bit conservative and more cautious, but at the same time we lose fear".

"My mother (she is 95 years old) repeats a Spanish phrase 'For what I have left in the convent, I still shit inside'. As the years go by, one realizes that, for what remains in the convent, the same it shits inside. You have to shit on many things and I've learned that over the years," he concludes.