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Cuban cultural leader makes rare visit to England

26 May 2009

A long-serving Cuban leader and former comrade of Che Guevara and Fidel Castro is paying a rare visit to England 50 years after the 1959 revolution.

Roberto Fernandez Retamar
Roberto Fernandez Retamar

Roberto Fernández Retamar – one of the last men to see Guevara before he went undercover in  Bolivia - is talking about his life and his work at The University of Manchester today (26 May).

Two and a half years after spending 48 hours with the guerilla leader at Shannon Airport, Guevara was captured by the Bolivian army and assasinated by the CIA in October 1967.

Their plane had been diverted to the airport in the Irish airport because of  technical problems.

A renowned poet, essayist, and literary critic, the 79-year-old Cuban has recently completed 14 hours of recorded interviews with Professor Joao Cesar Castro de Rocha from The University of Manchester.

Transcribed highlights from the recordings will be published in a book by Professor Rocha called The Critical method of Roberto Fernández Retamar.

Retamar’s achievements include being one of the founding members of  world famous cultural institute  Casa De Las Americas – also celebrating its fiftieth  anniversary this year.

Presided over by Retamar, the Casa de las Américas supports and publishes the work of writers, sculptures and  musicians from Latin America.

It also awards the Casa de las Américas prize - one of Latin America’s oldest and most prestigious literary awards.

Retamar has also written over a dozen major collections of verse and founded the Casa de las Americas cultural magazine.

Professor Castro de Rocha, who is based at the School of Languages, Linguistics and Cultures said: “Roberto Fernández Retamar is one of the most distinguished Latin American intellectual of the twentieth century.

“He has been a central figure in Cuba since the revolution was a close confidant of Che Guevara and Fidel Castro .

“To this day – in Guevara’s office - now a museum - a poem by Roberto Fernández Retamar called “Epitafio de un invasor” is framed.

“His insights are fascinating – and rarely heard outside Cuba.”

Notes for editors

Conversations with Roberto Fernández Retamar will take place at 5 PM on 26 May. Also taking part will be Professor Joao De Castro Rocha and Dr Parvathi Kumaraswami from the University of Manchester and Nicola Miler from University College London.

An image is available.

For media enquiries contact:

Mike Addelman
Media Relations Officer
Faculty of Humanities
The University of Manchester
0161 275 0790
07717 881 567
michael.addelman@manchester.ac.uk