Book by Celia Hart debuts in Havana

Here we publish the English translation of the article Se presenta en la Havana libro de Celia Hart (28 March 2007).

Here we publish the English translation of the article Se presenta en la Havana libro de Celia Hart (28 March 2007).


Celia Hart's book launch in La Havana

Celia Hart (second from the left) at the book launch

On Friday afternoon, March 16th, Celia Hart's book Revolutionary Notes - Cuba, Venezuela and International Socialism was presented, published by the F. Engels Foundation.

The presentation was made in front of the Centenary of the Apostle Bookstore, on 25th and O, in the Vedado neighborhood, and would not have been possible without the unestimable collaboration of the workers of the book store and of the Abel Santamaria Museum, located next door.

The place could not be better located. The Abel Santamaria museum house is in the apartment on 25th and O that Abel shared with his sister Haydee, where the young Cuban revolutionaries planned the assault on the Moncada garrison in 1953. More than a half century later some 60 people met in this so-historically charged place for the presentation of a book dedicated to the defense of the Cuban revolution and of the need for international socialist revolution.

The person in charge of presenting the book was Graciela Ramirez Cruz, coordinator of the International Committee for Justice and Liberty for the Five. She spoke of how Celia Hart had begun to revive the figure and the ideas of Trotsky at a time in which she was the only one to do so in Cuba.

Celia Hart - Apuntes revolucionariosCelia's book compiles the most important articles from that first one, The Flag of Coyoacan, from 2003, to Deepening the Socialist Revolution: The Only Way to Save It, from 2005, which covers her reflections on Fidel Castro's speech in the University of Havana, in which he warned that the Cuban revolution is not irreversible, and that it also faces the danger of its own errors and deficiencies.

Another speaker at the event was veteran Cuban communist militant Juan Leon Ferrera, who worked with Che in the Ministry of Industries. Juan Leon has always defended the ideas of Leon Trotsky. He noted the importance of Celia's book for being the first one to break the taboo that existed in Cuba regarding Trotsky and insisted on the importance of reading and studying Trotsky's works in order to be able to understand the era in which we live and the challenges which face the Cuban revolution today. His father, Ydalberto Ferrera, also present at the event, wore a Trotsky T-shirt made by the Revolutionary Marxist Current of Venezuela.

160307_presentacion_libro_celia_hart_02.jpgThe mention of the Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky brought forth applause by those present, which included veterans of the Moncada assault, militant CDR members from the neighborhood and revolutionaries of all ages who had gathered for this improvised event. As Celia Hart says, "There is no better place for the ideas of the Old Man than in the country of Julio Antonio Mella and Antonio Guiteras."

At the conclusion of the event, 80 copies of Celia's book were put on sale, and sold out. As Celia explained, these books are a donation from the F. Engels Foundation to the people of Cuba, as part of its internationalist and revolutionary commitment.

Cubans are proud of their revolution and of the level of education and culture that it has guaranteed to them. An example of this was the interest demonstrated by a peanut vendor who attended the event. The companero didn't have the money necessary to buy a copy (which was sold at 10 Cuban pesos) and offered 10 bunches of peanuts for a book. He left with the book, commenting that he had finally been able to familiarize himself with the ideas of Trotsky "and with the daughter of Yeye" (the affectionate nickname Cubans use for Haydee Santamaria).

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Pablo Minales receives the Haydee Santamaria medal

Among those attending the presentation was Vicente Feliu, one of the founders of the Cuban nueva trova movement in the '60s, together with Pablo Milanes and Silvio Rodriguez. In fact, after the presentation Celia, her brother and her sons went to the ceremony presenting the Haydee Santamaria medal to the Cuban singer/songwriter Pablo Milanes. Haydee Santamaria, Celia's mother, defended the young members of the nueva trova movement (who at the time were censured by the Stalinists, who zealously furthered the line of so-called "socialist realism") from her position in the Casa de las Americas. Pablo, as well as Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who presented the medal to him, asked for a copy of Celia's book.

Another copy was reserved for Alfredo Guevara, precursor of the New Cuban Cinema and sponsor of the nueva trova through the Grupo de Experimentacion Sonora of ICAIC [Cuban Instute of Art and Cinematographic Industries]. Guevara is also known for having confronted Blas Roca (of the Stalinist PSP and onetime Batista Minister of Labor) over the showing of some movies in 1963.

Thus in a Havana afternoon a peanut vendor and a Nobel prizewinner for literature made off with copies of the book that brought Leon Trotsky back to the Caribbean island that abolished capitalism under the very nose of U.S. imperialism and with the opposition of Stalinism.

A CubaNews translation by Joe Bryak.

Edited by Walter Lippmann.