Álvaro Alba

* 1963  

  • “I tried several times to start reading the Gulag Archipelago [novel by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn]. It was difficult to read it in Russian, I still did not have... And I decided then for a piece that I thought was less difficult, which was The Kolyma Tales by Varlam Shalamov and I was horrified. I was horrified to read it, to see the cruelty, the ruthless way in which the human being is treated within this system. And after having read The Kolyma Tales by Shalamov, it was easier for me to read Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. But yes, it was through the knowledge of Russian and Soviet history and literature, that I could understand that the Communism in Cuba had no life, that it had no future, and that it was cruel to maintain this system.”

  • “Our passport was never renewed. The passports that we had as students or the passports that we had as official ones to remain in the Soviet Union had to be renewed every two years. And when you went to get it renewed, they told you no, that you had to leave the country. Personally, I wrote a letter to Eduard Shevardnaze [Foreign Minister of the USSR under the presidency of Mikhail Gorbachev, 1985–1991] to allow me [to remain in the Soviet Union]. There was an agreement between Havana and Moscow in the Soviet times, that to be able to live in one of these countries, you had to have the authorization of the other. That means that a Cuban person had to have Cuba’s authorization for the Soviet Union to authorize him to stay there, and a Soviet had to have Soviet authorization for Havana to allow him to stay there or live there. It didn’t matter if you had a son, daughter, wife or husband.”

  • “The essence of Communism, I believe, is the suppression of freedoms. Of individual freedom, of private property and of the life of the human being. It takes away your freedom of choice, it takes away your right to private property, and in the end, if you don’t surrender to it, it takes away your life. I believe that this is the great evil, the nefarious essence of a system which does not tolerate thinking. The essence of Castroism is that it combined all that, let’s say with a tropical accent that has enchanted all the left-wing people in the whole world, as it presented a country of palms, beaches, music, which, nevertheless, in the background, has one of the most authoritarian Communist regimes of those that have ever existed. If anything could identify Fidel Castro with Stalin, it is that they were two soulmates, that they were both raised in religious institutions, that afterwards they both failed in their personal lives, and that their children even rebelled against their parents, Svetlana [Alliluyeva, Joseph Stalin’s only daughter] and Alina [Fernández Revuelta, an extramarital, but recognized daughter of Fidel Castro], and that their generals [Mikhail Nikolayevich] Tukhachevsky and [Arnaldo] Ochoa [Sánchez] also knew at some point to confront them despite having served them. And both of them had this totalitarian concept of power, of not allowing dissent, and both were able to shoot absolutely anyone.”

  • “It was a life where first of all, you did not question what was happening in the country, you had a good education, the schools had everything you needed, there was no shortage of food, the school had a pool where you recreated after having studied. Although the study was combined with work - you had to go to pick mandarins because the school was involved in a citrus plan. There were coming foreign delegations for visit to the school... On weekends, as it was a boarding school, you always had a party at the home of a classmate. Because all the students belonged to a different social class in the sense that no one there questioned whether there were political prisoners, or why so many people were leaving the country, there was never a pamphlet or book of protest which would be distributed. It was a life where the regime was accepted, where nobody questioned that there were no elections, and for the young people, life went on from party to party, in the summer going to Varadero beach to spend the holidays, or to the nearby beaches. It was an affable life, a peaceful life, without any political questioning.”

  • “They say that pessimists are well informed optimists. I am a pessimist. I am a pessimist because the Cuban people have atrophied. We are all marked, we are all hurt, we all suffer from a family division, we all have a dead family member, drowned in the Straits of Florida, or who spent twenty, ten, or fifteen years in jail. And it will take two or three generations for the country to reach a democracy, so that in Cuba it does not matter whether or not there is a Castro in power, so that Cuba does not fall into the hands of the drug cartels, so that in Cuba, corruption is not a fundamental sign of the economy...”

  • Celé nahrávky
  • 6

    Miami, Florida, USA, 20.04.2018

    (audio)
    délka: 58:30
Celé nahrávky jsou k dispozici pouze pro přihlášené uživatele.

Fidel Castro and Stalin were soulmates

Álvaro Alba during the recording in Miami, 2018
Álvaro Alba during the recording in Miami, 2018
zdroj: archivo de Post Bellum

Álvaro Alba was born on 27 December 1963 in Matanzas, Cuba, in a military family. The regime was never questioned, neither in his family nor at school; the students were of the privileged class who did not suffer from any kind of shortage. After his studies in Havana, he left in 1980 to study jurisprudence, international relations and history in the Soviet Union. After finishing his university career and a brief return to Cuba in 1988, in 1989 he began to work in Moscow for the ABC newspaper as a correspondent from the Soviet Union. His journalistic work took him to numerous places in the USSR, which, together with his knowledge of Soviet history and literature, led him to the conviction that Communism was bad. He experienced the fall of the regime in the Soviet Union. Today he works at Martí Noticias, and he has lived in the United States since 1993, where he accepted exile with his family through the „Exodus“ program by the Cuban-American National Foundation. He is married and has two children.