Negotiating sexuality and censorship in Las sábanas by José Corrales
One effect that many dictatorships in Latin America have had is censorship of literature and the fine arts, despite the fact that this region’s authoritarian leaders differ vastly in their political ideologies, often spanning opposite ends of the political spectrum. Cuba is one of the longest-standing non-fascist dictatorships in Latin America, if not the only one. Though Fidel Castro’s regime has been receptive and supportive of the fine arts by subsidising ballet schools and musical conservatories and the like, it has also been extremely specific about restrictions to these artistic activities and the consequences when they are not adhered to, which at the very least have involved censorship and in the most extreme cases have involved the imprisonment of the artist or author. Besides other possible factors, such hindrances to artistic production have forced many Cuban playwrights into exile, where they have found a more receptive audience and forum for the free expression of their artistry, which they lacked on the island. However, these efforts to obstruct counter-revolutionary artistic production by Fidel Castro’s authoritarian regime did not bring the overall fine arts and literature context in Cuba to a halt. Zoé Valdés ponders,
¿Cómo es ser escritor en Cuba? Me gustaría mucho poder responderles por experiencia propia, pero pese a que publiqué una primera novela y un poemario en mi país, jamás fui considerada una escritora, me trataron y me tratan de bandida o de pornógrafa.”
[What is it like to be a writer in Cuba? I would like very much to be able to respond to you through firsthand experience, but despite the fact that I published a first novel and poetry collection in my country, I was never considered a writer, I was called a bandit or a pornographist.](Valdés 2005: 35) 1 Rosa Ileana Boudet describes the status of theatre in the early sixties in Cuba acknowledging the opening of the cultural centre Casa de las Américas which greatly impacted the cultural politics on the island. But she also alludes to the fact that the theatrical debuts of the time were often “controvertidos” [polemic] and that the weekly periodical entitled Lunes de revolución embraced and published only about plays and writers that embraced the Revolution (Boudet 2012: 9–10).