01 December 2016, The Tablet

Cuba: a contradictory culture

by Clare Dixon


A regular visitor over 35 years finds a people ever ready with complaints but also full of pride in their achievements; of devout Catholics and convinced communists

Reviled and revered in equal measure, no one could deny that Fidel Castro was a towering figure of the twentieth century. In death, almost a decade after he handed power over to his brother Raúl, he continues to provoke fierce controversy.

To oppressed people in Latin America and leaders of anti-colonial struggles in Africa, Cuba under Fidel became a source of hope and inspiration, while successive US governments accorded the country pariah status and imposed an all-encompassing embargo that persists to this day.

Everyone has an idea, and strong opinions, of what Cuba is like. I know I did before I ever went there, but almost as soon as I first set foot on the island I had to start revising my preconceptions. Cuba is nothing if not a country of contradictions. As Maria López Vigil, the Cuban-born biographer of El Salvador’s Archbishop Óscar Romero, wrote, “Cuba: neither heaven nor hell”.

Get Instant Access

Continue Reading

Register for free to read this article in full

Subscribe for unlimited access

From just £30 quarterly

  Complete access to all Tablet website content including all premium content.
  The full weekly edition in print and digital including our 179 years archive.
  PDF version to view on iPad, iPhone or computer.

Already a subscriber? Login