Desde Dentro de Cuba.

Distribuido por Cuba Free Press, Inc. -

Nov. 15, 1999.

ERNEST M. HEMINGWAY AND THE CUBAN REALITY By Rafael Contreras Bueno, Cuba Free Press.

HAVANA - "Ernest M. Hemingway arrived for the first time to Havana on board the British steamer Orita, taking him from La Rochelle to Key West, in April of 1928. It was a two-weeks' cruise and neither his second wife, Paulina Seiffer, whom he had married 10 months earlier, nor he probably felt much interest in that Caribbean city, beyond its serving as a tropical stop-over of two days, after the vast ocean and crude French winter."

Those were the opening words of the prologue by Gabriel Garcia Marquez in the book "Hemingway in Cuba" written by a Cuban writer now in exile, Norberto Fuentes. For Hemingway, La Habana became much more than a rest stop from a long trip.

It was through his third wife, Martha Guernot, that Havana finally captivated the bronze god of North American literature. Martha found the intelligent solution: a house in the outskirts of the city, where he would be able to write in peace. Searching through the newspaper classifieds she came across the ad for the lovely country refuge which would become the writer's home until his final departure from Cuba, on the way to suicide and death.

Cuba was Hemingway's illusion. He understood and felt close to the Cubans. The warm Gulf Stream waters formed part of the island's emanations which triggered his insatiable curiosity, his inquisitive, journalistic searches. He got to know Cuba so well that upon the triumph of the revolution in January of 1959, he arrived at the island, kissing once again the soil.

Asked by a journalist for his thoughts on the Cuban Revolution he said, "I believe in the Cuban revolution. I believe in its historical transcendence."

Those comments would come back to haunt him. Within a year, shortly before his suicidal rifle shot, there were those who thought him a communist. Hemingway did not disappoint Cuba, he was grateful and true to his word. But the Cuban reality did not keep faith with him. This Cuban Reality is not what Hemingway wanted for a people he loved so well.

It would hurt Ernest deeply to know his novels are not available to the new generations. His bones would rattle if he knew one of his best biographies had been taken out of circulation, because it was written by a journalist now in exile. In addition, the work had been dedicated to a subversive writer (according to the authorities) and to a general put to death by government tribunals, namely Antonio de la Guardia.

At this centenary celebration of EMH's birth we are sad to feel Hemingway's death and silence. It hurts not to have an answer to his prophecies on our historical reality. He might give us a different answer now, but because of his love for the sea and the Cubans, it would still show solidarity with us.

Perhaps, in a not too far off day, we will hear the words of Papa Hemingway, coming through the deafening echoes of the rifle shot. The Cuban Revolution could have evolved differently. It had its chance to do so and wasted it.

Rafael Contreras Bueno, Cuba Free Press.

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