Totalitarianism in the Tropics: Cuba's 'Padilla Case' Revisited
65 Pages Posted: 26 Aug 2012 Last revised: 25 Aug 2015
Date Written: August 24, 2015
This is an essay on the recurrent struggle between literature and power. With the 1971 arrest and forced public confession of the poet Heberto Padilla, Fidel Castro launched his version of a "cultural revolution" in Cuba. The "Padilla Case," as it came to be known, resonated internationally, leading to an open break between the regime and many of its erstwhile European and Latin American fellow travelers in the literary world. The essay draws parallels in the area of controls over the written word between Castro's dictatorship and those of two other totalitarian regimes examined in Richard Overy, "The Dictators. Hitler’s Germany, Stalin’s Russia."
The original version of this essay was prepared for presentation at the 2012 meeting of the American Political Science Association, New Orleans, September 1. As it happened, the meeting was canceled on account of a hurricane that struck the city. A subsequent version was published as an article in "Cuban Affairs. Quarterly Electronic Journal" (2012, Vol. 7, Issue 3). This is the latest iteration of what, at least for now, is a plan to revise and update the paper periodically. The date shown above is that of the latest revision.
Keywords: totalitarianism, Castro's Cuba, Padilla Case, Hitler's Germany, Stalin's Russia, literature
JEL Classification: Z00
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation