New Che Guevara diaries published in Cuba; disputes in Mexico after a court ruling on a previously unknown trove of works by Frida Kahlo.
On Tuesday, 14 June, a previously unpublished diary written by Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara was released in Havana, Cuba. The entries date from the time of Guevara’s landing in Cuba on the ‘Granma’ until the pivotal battles of Sierra Maestra and Santa Clara.
The book, entitled ‘Diary of a Combatant’, was published by the Centro de Estudios Che Guevara (Che Guevara Study Centre) to coincide with what would have been Guevara’s 83rd birthday. The collection covers the period from 1956-1958: from his arrival in Cuba and through the eastward march on Havana.
Some of the material included in the diaries was previously published in ‘Pasajes de la guerra revolucionaria’ (Episodes of the Cuban Revolutionary War), which Guevara released in 1963.
For the most part, however, the book consists of never-before published material gathered from the small notebooks Guevara kept with him throughout the Cuban campaign.
There are some gaps in the diaries, admits Maria del Carmen Ariet, a researcher from the Centre, as some of the notebooks have been lost and there are different versions of others.
Moroever, Guevara’s handwriting is often hard to decipher. In order to fill in these gaps the Centre relied on interviews with Guevara’s fellow militants at the time—most notably Fidel Castro himself, who was consulted by Guevara’s widow and the director of the Centre, Aleida March.
At the release, March and and one of her daughters were on hand to sign books. She maintains that the purpose of the publication, and of the Centre, is so that people today can get to know the life, works, and thought of Guevara ‘he was’ and so that his legacy is not distorted.
When asked how Cuba might have been different if Guevara had not been killed in Bolivia in 1967, his companion Dr Óscar Fernández Mell suggested that perhaps some ‘mistakes’ might have been avoided.
In Mexico City, the Frida Kahlo Museum Trust has been upset by the decision of a court ruling (decided in August 2010 but not reported until earlier this month) that a cache of previously unknown works and ephemera by and relating to Frida Kahlo can not be dismissed as fakes.
The collection, acquired by Monterrey collectors Carlos Noyola and Leticia Fernández in 2004, includes 16 small oil paintings, 23 watercolors and pastels, 59 notebook pages (diary entries, recipes), 73 anatomical studies (some dated prior to Kahlo’s disfiguring 1925 trolley accident), 128 pencil and crayon drawings, 129 illustrated prose-poems, and 230 letters to Carlos Pellicer, the Modernist poet and Frida’s close confidant, many adorned with sketches, as well as other ephemera such as bills, photographs, and receipts.
In 2009, the Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo Museum Trust and the Bank of Mexico, which control most of the artists’ copyrights, issued a letter to the media and Mexican cultural institutions stating that all of the materials in the Noyola collection were fakes, sparking last year’s court case.
While the attorney general’s office ultimately brought no charges, deciding that the works cannot be dismissed as forgeries, the status of the works is now unclear.
Hilda Trujillo, director of the Frida Kahlo Museum, participated in a news conference 9 June with some of the artists’ descendants and other complainants to denounce the trove as forgeries, but admits that they have no further recourse unless the state-run National Institute of Fine Arts submits a ruling on the works’ authenticity.
The works in the Noyola collection have not yet been displayed or examined extensively by experts. Although many, including art historian James Oles, appear doubtful, the trove would be immensely significant if authentic, ‘tripling the number of known works by Kahlo’.
The Bolivian Culture Ministry on Friday announced a new 7.700B ($1.100) prize for the best new novel or work written in Quechua. This will be the second annual awarding of the Premio Nacional de Narrativa en idioma originario Guamán Poma de Ayala (National Guamán Poma de Ayala Prize for Narrative in an Indigenous Language).
Carola Ossio, the manager of the publishing house Santillana, explained that the prize was created in response to changes in the 2009 Constitution that focused on recognition of indigenous cultures and languages.
Last year’s prize, for works written in Aymara, was awarded to Federico Tórrez for his ‘Jach’a tuntachawita-pachakutiwi’ (From the Great Assembly to the Great Change), an allegorical novel relating Aymara history. This year’s entries must be submitted to Santillana by 3 October.
Buenos Aires prepares to celebrate Ernesto Sábato’s 100th birthday (on 24 June) with a giant photograph (88 by 34 metres) of the writer displayed downtown. Meanwhile, a number of porteño galleries are displaying pro-Cristina art in advance of next fall’s elections.
An essay by novelist Oscar Hijuelos, of Cuban descent, on a childhood illness, language, and identity.
Download Argentine band CLDSCP’s pop-y new album ‘Niños azules’.