Heberto Padilla poetry

Date: 1967 - 1980

Region: Central America and the Caribbean


Medium: Literature

Artist: Heberto Padilla

Confronting Bodies: Fidel Castro

Dates of Action: 1967-1980

Location: Pinar del Rio, Cuba

Description of Artwork: Padilla was Cuba's foremost living poet. He was exiled under President Fulgencio Batista and lived in New York. A childhood friend of Fidel Castro, he was an eloquent supporter of the Cuban revolution. He joined the editorial board of the magazine Lunes de Revolucion while writing internationally renowned poetry.

The Incident: In 1967, Padilla wrote a letter to the periodical El Caiman Barbudo, in which he praised the novel Tres Tristes Tigres by Guillermo Cabrera Infante. In August 1968, Cabrera Infante who was then living abroad, publicly denounced the condition of writers in Cuba and attacked the Cuban Revolution, in an interview in the Argentine newspaper Primera Plana. As a result, Padilla now was seen as siding with a "public traitor to the Revolution."

Results of Incident: On April 26, 1971 he was released from prison. He shocked the world when - acting under severe pressure - he performed a public act of self-criticism, denouncing his own work. He was forbidden to leave the country until 1980. He emmigrated to the United States, living in New York City; Miami, Florida; and Princeton, New Jersey with his family. He died in September of 2000.

Source: from Heberto Padilla's book Self Portrait of the Other