In the late 1970’s, Cuban leader Fidel Castro and noted author Gabriel Garcia Marquez became friends, but even more, developed a working relationship that would continue on throughout the decades. Having met in 1977 in a bizarre incident that historians are unsure if it was planned or mere coincidence, the two discussed literature, as both Marquez and Castro were serious readers and Marquez was planning an upcoming book about life in Cuba while the US implemented its embargo. Instead, what sprung forth was a friendship and working relationship in which Castro edited Marquez’s manuscripts.
It is known that Marquez was a supporter of the Cuban revolution, and freedom for Latin America, thus Marquez took Fidel up on his offer. However, while one might expect Castro to provide more ideological influences, he only provided his “eye for detail,” sending Marquez factual and grammatical corrections. Examples ranged from the calculation of the speed of the boat in The Story of a Shipwrecked Sailor to specifications of hunting rifles and bullets in Chronicle of a Death Foretold.
It is uncertain as to what Marquez offered Castro out of this, other than friendship and an early look at his manuscripts, but the book Fidel & Gabo discusses their relationship at length. Márquez scholars Ángel Esteban and Stéphanie Panichelli explore their relationship in depth and provide insight that shows how though this relationship might have been literary, it was not without controversy.
In addition to the research provided in the book, earlier this week at the Harry Ransom Centre at the University of Texas, a book was acquired further proving the close relationship of these two men. Writing in 2010 in the front of La Victoria Estratégica, (The Strategic Victory) Castro dedicates that copy to Gabo, which was generally the more affectionate name given to Gabriel Garcia Marquz and wrote, “Your book Yo No Vengo a Decir un Discurso [I’m Not Here to Give a Speech] is disturbing,” he told his friend. “Enslaved by other obligations, I abandoned my duty and started reading. I missed your stories.” The plague in Haiti, he added, “reminded me of Love in a Time of Cholera.”
Though it is uncertain if Marquez ever spoke of the issues surrounding Cuba’s human rights abuses to Castro, one is certain that a friendship forged beyond the political arena. In addition, though one cannot say with certainty, it would seem that Castro played a role, small or large, in helping Marquez’s works to become the masterpieces they are.
You can learn about even more relationships that Gabriel Garcia Marquez held, such as one with President Clinton, at the Harry Ransom Centere where they keep an archive of the famed and beloved writer.
What do you think of the relationship between Marquez and Castro? Do you know of any other “forbidden” author friendships?
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h/t The Guardian