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The Eighties

In the late eighties, the contradictions posed by the beginning of a new economic structure in a stagnant political realm stirred anew the question of the revolutionary ethos. How to define a revolutionary ideal according to the new times? This question was particularly pertinent for the heirs of Guevara's New Men, who were supposed to be the first truly revolutionary Cubans. The demise of real socialism also decreased Ernesto Guevara's popularity as a revolutionary ideologue. Promoted by the state as the ideological mentor of younger generations, Guevara's fallen myth would eventually leave young intellectuals fatherless. Aware of this, the state fought to keep alive the myth by bringing his mortal remains for burial to Havana in 1997.

Confronted with the ideological void left in front of them, many intellectuals clung on to the Guevarian model. After all, they had been brought up with a revolutionary ideology, and they had suffered the consequences of the sixties’ utopia debacle. As Ivan de la Nuez says, “They are irredeemably marked as subjects of the hammer and sickle [estan irremediablemente marcados como sujetos de la hoz y el martillo]” (de la Nuez 2006, 118). They have all suffered the consequences of the sixties utopia’s debacle, but only the group of young writers that this book studies has set itself the task of reflecting on this historical event. This generation engendered by an ideological ruin cannot be anything else but a ruin: “Somos mas bien los infaltables infusorios, el toque final que hace caer con estrepito el ruinoso edificio. Porque el edificio es ruinoso y seguira siendolo, al menos durante un tiempo. [We are, rather, the inevitable microorganisms, the finishing touch that brings the ruined building crashing down. Because the building is a ruin and will remain one, at least for a while]” (Sanchez Mejias 1999, 5). If they can only conceive of language as one more ruin, this is because they still have a relationship of debt to the Guevarian New Man. They long for a word that was never given to them, and they can only speak with the forlorn language of defeat because the image of the New Man still haunts them and because they have not let go of the object of desire as utopia.

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