13
A Conversion

MORE FIDELIST THAN FIDEL, the communists had begun to flex their muscles. During the summer of 1961 they moved into key positions in the revolutionary regime. Castro kept political and economic power in his own hands. But the PSP leaders, old-time Marxists, took over the institutions that disseminated culture—first the cinema and then the publications industry. Alfredo Guevara, once a fellow student of the prime minister at the university, controlled the making and distribution of motion pictures. American shows virtually disappeared from the theaters, to be replaced by films from the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, noted more for their heavy-handed propaganda than for their artistic or entertainment value— White Nights with Ludmila Marchenko, The Man with Two Faces, The Immortal Garrison, and The Silent Barricades. At a roundtable discussion in Havana, Soviet films were praised for their realism. * They should be an inspiration for Cuban directors, said one participant. Another contended that the cinema was a place for culture, not entertainment. The long‐ suffering Cuban people, deprived by the revolution of their traditional fiestas, of the colorful and raucous hurly-burly of their markets, of their comfortable social clubs, of their soap-opera television shows, and now of Hollywood entertainments, were asked to sit through deadly dull epics such as Potemkin, when they would have much preferred Walt Disney, John Wayne, and Doris Day. 1

Carlos Franqui, during a visit to Moscow in 1960, had described the Castro movement as a "revolution of joy, of fun." These were not words

____________________
*
Lenin said: "Of all the arts, for us the cinema is the most important."

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