Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who died last week at 87, possessed narrative skill and linguistic creativity in abundance but lacked moral courage, writes Charles Lane, who notes the Nobel winner’s complicity in the crimes of the Castro regime. The key episode happened in 1971, when Garcia Marquez refused to join his literary peers in signing an open letter denouncing the Stalinesque show trial of the Cuban poet Herbert Padilla:
Thereafter, the Colombian gradually rose in Havana’s estimation, ultimately emerging as a de facto member of Castro’s inner circle.
Fidel would shower “Gabo” with perks, including a mansion, and established a film institute in Cuba under García Márquez’s personal direction.
The novelist, in turn, lent his celebrity and eloquence to the regime’s propaganda mill, describing the Cuban dictator in 1990 as a “man of austere habits and insatiable dreams, with an old-fashioned formal education, careful words and fine manners, and incapable of conceiving any idea that isn’t extraordinary.”
To rationalize this cozy relationship, García Márquez offered himself as an ostensible go-between when Castro occasionally released dissidents to appease the West.
What Gabo never did was raise his voice, or lift a finger, on behalf of Cubans’ right to express themselves freely in the first place.
Far from being “a representative and voice for the people of the Americas,” he served as a de facto spokesman for one of their oppressors.
García Márquez went so far as to defend death sentences Castro handed out to politically heterodox Cuban officials — one of whom had been personally close to the writer — after a 1989 show trial. […]
Castro finally let Heberto Padilla leave Cuba for the United States in 1980. In his 1989 memoir, “Self-Portrait of the Other,” the poet noted that he sought García Márquez’s aid for an exit visa but that the writer tried to dissuade him from going, saying that Cuba’s enemies might use his departure for propaganda purposes. [Washington Post, April 23]