By Ana Mendoza
SEGOVIA, Spain – Cuban writer Leonardo Padura has just published a novel, perhaps his “most ambitious,” on the assassination of Russian politician Leon Trotsky, “the last great theoretician of Marxism” whose death in 1940 meant “a point of no return” in the failure of the socialist utopia.
“The biggest deception of the 20th century was Stalinism. Stalin practiced assassination as a state policy” and managed to hide from the world the fact that “hundreds of thousands of people in Siberia and the Arctic Circle were dying of cold and hunger,” Padura said in an interview with Efe.
Padura made the trip to Segovia in central Spain to present at the “Hay Festival” (There’s a Festival) event his book “El Hombre que Amaba a los Perros” (The Man Who Loved Dogs), published by Tusquets.
The fruit of arduous research, the novel reconstructs the motives that led the Spaniard Ramon Mercader to kill Trotsky in 1940 in Mexico, when the controversial politician “no longer had any power.” His death was “the assassination of intelligence.”
“Trotsky together with Lenin had created the theory of the revolution, and his death symbolized the end of any chance to achieve utopia in the 20th century,” Padura, who lives in Cuba, said.
The writer believes that today “some of the values” of the socialist utopia “should be rescued, and done in a way that does not have the deceptive, shady character it had in the former Soviet Union.”
It should rather be a utopia that “is founded on the possibility of a real democracy.”
And what has to be done so that Cuba evolves towards democracy? The writer, famous for the series of mystery novels featuring the detective Mario Conde that have earned him some prestigious prizes, said that the main problem with his country is the economy. “Solving that matter will have to be part of any change.”
As long as the economic system isn’t altered, he warned, “no change is feasible, but what is feasible and dangerous are protests and a social explosion in Cuba, because there are marginalized sectors getting into a situation that is about all they can take.”
Barack Obama assuming the U.S. presidency “has not essentially changed” relations with Cuba. “The embargo continues working as before and that is a very heavy burden on the Cuban economy.”
But Obama “has removed the leading role of the Cuban problem” and that is “very important, because it has diminished the pressure that always existed and that the Cuban government used very cleverly: the threat of an imperialist invasion.”
And that has also eliminated the leading role of “a stagnant right wing in Miami,” which is, Padura said, “the beneficiary of the embargo on Cuba.”
The novelist makes failure of the socialist utopia the central theme of his new novel, though he uses a fictionalized history and dramatic resources to recount his reflections. EFE