“Cuba Libre”

by Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones)
(1960)
   If the years 1958–62 can be agreed to represent LeRoi Jones/ amiri baraka’s Beat phase, then “Cuba Libre,” which arose out of his 1960 visit to Cuba in the company of such black intellectuals as Harold Cruse, Robert F. Williams, Julian Mayfield, and John Henrik Clarke under the auspices of the Fair Play for Cuba Committee, marks his transition into black nationalism with Marxism to follow in the 1970s. First published in Evergreen Review, it would become a mainstay of the collection Home: Social Essays (1966), along with such writings as “The Legacy of Malcolm X, and the Coming of the Black Nation” (1965) and “State/meant” (1965). No longer for him Greenwich Village, the bohemian art scene, or hettie jones—his white wife and coeditor of the avant-garde literary journal Yugen (1958–62), which published allen ginsberg and others, or his one-time sense that the Beats were his fellow outsiders. Rather the call now lay in committed, interventionist black politics. dutcHman (1964), his landmark play set on the circling New York metro in the “underbelly of the city” and a mythic reenactment of the destructive violence which so often has shaped America’s black–white interface, gives one expression. Another lies in the poem “BLACK DADA NIHILISMUS,” in The Dead Lecturer (1964), with its heady, millennial vision of black redress against whitesupremacist abuse within a West he designates as “gray hideous space.” “Cuba Libre” helps greatly in understanding Jones/Baraka’s ideological shift, his impatience with Beat’s apoliticality, as he had come to regard it, and the need for a Third World alliance against the United States and western imperialist world order.
   Told as though a diary of events, “Cuba Libre” begins from a gathering of the group at New York’s formerly named Idlewild Airport, then the day’s delay over tickets that he believes were likely finagled by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the next-day flight to Havana and the Presidente Hotel. Determined not to be taken in by “official” Cuba and as he gets to know his fellow members of the group—especially Robert Williams as NAACP militant leader from Monroe, North Carolina, and the painter Edward Clarke—he undergoes a furtherance of his own already rising political consciousness. Each sequence in the visit weighs keenly with him, whether the Casa de las Americas and an encounter with the guide-translator Olga Finley and the subdirector and architect Alberto Robaina, or the Ministry of Education where he learns of progress toward national literacy, or the National Agrarian Reform Institute whose remit is the redistribution of land, or finally the Ministry of Housing with its challenges to meet the needs of a largely rural, poor citizenry. Evidently exhilarated at the solidarity he meets, he prepares with the others for the anniversary of Fidel Castro’s conquest of the Moncada Barracks on July 26, 1953. En route to the other side of the island by crowded train and truck, he hears endlessly the cries of “Fidel,” “Venceremos” and “Cuba Sí, Yanqui No,” debates revolution and imperialism with one Señora Betancourt, and makes his way with the others through intense heat to meet and hear Castro (“He is an amazing speaker, knowing probably instinctively all the laws of dynamics and elocution”).
   The cross-island journey and back, despite his own dehydration and dysentery, serves as rite of passage, the community socialist belief and fervor, his own exchange of words with Castro, and Castro’s unsparing indictments of the Monroe Doctrine, Batista, Eisenhower, and Nixon. He displays a rising scorn for Western consumerism and for the “vapid mores” and “vested interest” of the United States. His conclusion argues that “the Cubans, and other new peoples (in Asia, Africa, South America) don’t need us, and we had better stay out of their way.” The Beat years, important as they may have been in the development of the LeRoi Jones shortly thereafter to become Imamu Amiri Baraka, seem already far behind, a genuinely prior time.
   A. Robert Lee

Encyclopedia of Beat Literature. . 2014.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Cuba Libre — (spanisch für „Freies Kuba“) ist ein alkoholhaltiger Longdrink auf Rum Basis, der 1898 in Havanna (Kuba) erfunden wurde. Eine andere Version dieses Longdrinks ist der so genannte Cubata, der mit braunem anstatt mit weißem Rum gemixt wird.… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Cuba Libre — Le Cuba libre est un cocktail à base de rhum, de citron vert et de cola appelé aussi rhum Coca. Origine du nom Le nom de ce cocktail date de 1898, année de la perte de Cuba par les Espagnols, et fin de la guerre d indépendance. Selon la légende… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Cuba-Libre —   der, / s, Mischgetränk aus einem Colagetränk, etwas (weißem) Rum und Zitronensaft …   Universal-Lexikon

  • Cuba Libre — This article is about the cocktail. For other uses, see Cuba libre (disambiguation). Rum and coke redirects here. For the Dub Pistols album, see Rum Coke. Cuba Libre IBA Official Cocktail A Cuba Libre served in a short tumbler …   Wikipedia

  • Cuba libre — Le Cuba libre est un cocktail à base de rhum, de citron vert et de cola, appelé aussi rhum Coca,[1],[2] ou rum and Coke au Québec …   Wikipédia en Français

  • cuba libre — cu·ba li·bre loc.s.m.inv. ES sp. {{wmetafile0}} bevanda a base di coca cola e rum {{line}} {{/line}} DATA: 1949. ETIMO: sp. Cuba libre propr. Cuba libera …   Dizionario italiano

  • cuba-libre — cubalibre o cuba libre (plural cubalibres) sustantivo masculino 1. (no contable) Mezcla de refresco de cola y bebida alcohólica, generalmente ron o ginebra: A mí lo que más me gusta es el cubalibre de ron. 2. Uso/registro: coloquial. Medida de… …   Diccionario Salamanca de la Lengua Española

  • Cuba libre — [ˌk(j)u:bə li:breɪ] noun (plural Cuba libres) a long drink containing lime juice and rum. Origin Amer. Sp., free Cuba …   English new terms dictionary

  • cuba libre — ˌkyübəˈlēbrə noun (plural cuba libres) Etymology: American Spanish, literally, free Cuba (originally a drink of water and sugar or honey drunk by insurrectionists during the Cuban War of Independence) : a tall drink made from lime juice, rum, and …   Useful english dictionary

  • Cuba libre — noun Etymology: Spanish, literally, free Cuba Date: 1937 a cocktail made with rum, lime juice, and cola …   New Collegiate Dictionary

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