A question of major importance in Cuban culture is the link between radical political and artistic positions, something that usually occurs in small, poor, subaltern countries where culture carries a marked social edge attuned to the circumstances in which it is produced and where it has been forced to construct a national identity in the face of colonial and neocolonial powers. On the island of Cuba, this trait goes back to the onset of the independence movement—inspired by the French Revolution—at the beginning of the nineteenth century. A large number of the most important intellectuals were also truly outstanding political figures. The paradigm is José Martí, Cuba's national hero, organizer of the war that led to independence from Spain in 1898 and at the same time one of the great writers in the Spanish language. But what is still more telling is that the first possible Cuban Catholic saint o be beatified and now in the process of canonization is Félix Varela, a priest from the early 1800s, professor of philosophy, publicist, political figure active in the courts of Spain, and the first to support the independence of the island, a cause he championed until his death in exile, that is, someone who could be on good terms with both God and the devil.
The weight of a liberal and enlightened tradition in the formation of the Cuban nation, along with the social sense of the intellectual avant-garde as well as the geographical and historical location of the island in the Occidental sphere, established a specific background for the socialist regime in Cuba that was different from the case in Asia or Central and Eastern Europe. On the other hand, these coordinates are to be found in greater or lesser degree in Latin America in general. Moreover, in the early 1980s, when the so-called New Cuban Art movement was consolidated, many intellectuals of the island still harbored a hope for the nationalist and Third World utopia of social justice promised by the Cuban revolution and based on indisputable social