By Carlos Alberto Montaner
Abel Sierra Madero has investigated Fidel Castro’s romance with Playboy and the romance of all adult magazines with Fidel Castro, with the revolution and with the Cubans and, especially, with the Cuban women. I’m borrowing the title of his book for this article. It is really amazing what he has found and collected. The book is full of reproductions of the magazines’ first pages. Not in vain Sierra is a historian, graduated in Cuba, and has a PhD in Literature from a good university in New York.
In the epilogue, Sierra Madero tells his story and that of his family. They were of very humble origin. His grandmother was a laundress and his grandfather a cane cutter. They believed in the revolution and benefited from it. They climbed in both the labor and the social scale. His mother studied Russian in the USSR. But Abel was born in 1976, a couple of generations after the revolutionary phenomenon. His grandparents lived and died dazzled by Castro. For Abel, when he came to the age of making political judgments, especially after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of European Communism, the Commander was an annoying guy, indifferent to reality, who talked nonsense incessantly. Abel did not see history through myths. When he could, he escaped from Cuba.
The book he has written is amazing. I knew nothing of the sexual fantasies of those publications with my compatriots, including the sadomasochistic fantasies, interspersed with well-known real stories, such as that of Marita Lorenz, the 18-year-old German woman whom Fidel allegedly raped, made pregnant and then forced her to have an abortion against her will.
What is true about Fidel Castro’s hypersexuality?
I think it’s not true.
I think Juan Reinaldo Sánchez, the chief of the Commander’s bodyguards (and author of Fidel Castro’s Hidden Life
), is right. Quoted by Sierra, he introduced Castro as an ordinary individual, even shy, although he owned dozens of spectacular houses all over the island, in which he received his sporadic lovers, while keeping his holy wife, Dalia Soto del Valle, away from the Cubans’ radar, who knew of her existence after 25 years of marriage and four children.
The island’s atmosphere of sensuality perhaps began with the first advertising campaign in which the product to be sold (tobacco) and sex were mixed. In the 19th century, it was said that voluptuous female workers twisted the cigars on their sweaty thighs under Cuba’s burning climate. Even if it was not true, some American puritans felt desires and acquired the cigars to close their eyes and dream while they smoked.
Despite those gossip magazines, I don’t think that Cuban society was especially sensual. I have written it before: Cuba, before the revolution, was a society formed under the prudish Hispanic-Catholic tradition in which to copulate – as the Basques say – “was more of a miracle than a sin.”
There were, of course, brothels, but that custom, also Spanish, Italian and French, was related to the pretended chastity of honorable women. There were also some discreet gangsters who exploited the eight gambling casinos that existed in Havana (less than there are in any Las Vegas alley) and shared their “benefits” with the corrupt president Fulgencio Batista.
Even when the American sex magazines drew the picture of a lustful Cuba, the Cuban political police had invented a crime, la dolce vita, to punish the “revolutionaries” who held so-called “clothes hanger parties” (to hang the clothes when they undressed).
Even more, in the first years of the revolution, these idiots decided to close the “posadas” or discreet motels where couples used to meet. A good friend, who had conquered a woman married with a fierce man, was about to make love in one of those inns when he heard a revolutionary leader shouting through a megaphone outside the motel, “Comrade, the revolution cannot tolerate these immoralities. Get out of the rooms immediately and leave. You will not be arrested.”
My friend could never contact the married lady again. I think he subscribed to Playboy. He never told me why. Carlos Alberto Montaner is a journalist and writer. Born in 1943 in Cuba and exiled, Montaner is known for his more than 25 books and thousands of articles. PODER magazine estimates that more than six million readers have access to his weekly columns throughout Latin America. He is also a political analyst for CNN en Espanol. In 2012, Foreign Policy magazine named Montaner as one of the fifty most influential intellectuals in the Ibero-American world. His latest novel is A Time for Scoundrels. His latest essay is "The President: A Handbook for Voters and the Elected." His latest book is a review of Las raíces torcidas de América Latina (The Twisted Roots of Latin America), published by Planeta and available in Amazon, in printed or digital version.