Surely none of the attendees of the Workshop “Juan Marinello, his time and his contemporaries”, held at the Cuban Institute of Cultural Research Juan Marinello on March 26 and 27, imagined that Dr. Ana Cairo’s appearance at that center would be her last presentation at such an event. The great humanist was caught by death just a few days later, on April 3. I’d have turned 70 in November.
The 26th came to meet disciplinedly, with some delay and signs of fatigue. Troubled by having to join in the midst of the inaugural intervention, by Rafael Suenga Martínez, of the Cuban Peace Movement, she went to the rapporteurs’ table, something that no one would have thought to question, although it was not yet the time of her panel. Anyway that was also his place, but then he was right to apologize to everyone for the “break-in.”
His presentation, entitled “On Sundays of Juan Marinello”, focused attention on a small book, consisting of brief essayistic reflections of the author, almost all written in his free time, or inspired by various tasks: Domingos, published in 1985.
Ana contextualized it, pondered its values, and recommended a re-editing, all in its well-known way of ignoring notes and relying on ideas that, having them well known and better internalized, he explained with eloquence that, in addition to innateness, empowered him four decades of teaching and lectures.
He also had in his favor, in this as in many other cases, the possibility of being a grateful guarantor of anecdotes and Marinellean gestures that he left there, because from a very young age she was joined by a great essayist a relationship of affection and work, especially when she was engaged in the chores of her first two books: The Movement of Veterans and Patriots (1976) and The Retail Group and her time (1978). We all heard him say how the author of Contemporaries defended the idea that the text of the then research rookie “came out” with names and signs, at a time when so many arbitrary exclusions spoiled more than a valuable contribution to the knowledge of our cultural history.
It was followed by the enlightening intervention of Dr. Ana Suarez, researcher at the Institute; then came comments and doubts from the participants; and so, with the conclusions, came what almost everyone considered a second presentation by Ana Cairo, stimulated by the mention of texts by the author that are not considered very good today, or reality lagged.
Then the teacher spoke of contexts and group pressures, and even partisans; complex junctures; commitments and loyalties that seem exaggerated today, but which cannot always be subtracted. And he recalled how Marinello’s correspondence shows that his personal relationships knew how to keep them out of political passions and obligations, at least whenever possible.
He mentioned names that were later demonized by others, and assured that while it is true that the Conversation with our abstract painters is not today an ideal text for the study of our painting, so is that, in addition to narrowing ideas at the time deeply rooted in certain extreme areas of the left, in his home Marinello had paintings of painters who in Cuba cultivated the non-figurative tendency : they were gifts from their doers.
Ana spoke of all this, and before she was given the greatest applause of the event, she had time to allude to the new constitution of the republic, and to the current education in the country, and, above all, to remember again that if anything distinguished Marinello it was her tendency to enter into understandings. It became clear that for her that is the trait that must be taken care of the author the most. Because, and that also repeated it—with enough energy not to be forgotten—what Cuba needs most today is precisely “consensus builders.”
So be it, Professor. That’s the best legacy you could leave us.