IN HIS REVIEW OF THE Cuban film Strawberry and Chocolate (Film, 2/10), Mark Jenkins claims that “Diego’s subversions are barely potent enough to give Castro a stomachache.” He would probably be right if the character’s only subversions were drinking whiskey and reading Time, as Jenkins states in his comment. But he fails to mention that Diego also chooses to flee his country. It’s hard to believe Jenkins could miss the point that Tomas Gutierrez Alea, one of Cuba’s leading cultural figures, has his main character defect precisely because he lacks freedom for his artistic work in Cuba.
Worse yet, the reviewer says that the character in question, Diego, spends his time talking about “writers and composers little-known outside their native land.” Perhaps they’re little-known for Jenkins, but Jose Lezama-Lima, the Cuban writer most often mentioned in the film, is the author of Paradiso, considered by many the best novel in Cuban literature, extensively read throughout Latin America and translated into dozens of languages, English included. As for the unknown composers, I hope Jenkins isn’t referring to Ernesto Lecuona. Despite being Cuban, Lecuona composed one of the best-known flamenco pieces of all time—“Malaguena.” A visit to area record stores will show Jenkins that even in D.C. there’s a market for Lecuona’s music, although recordings of his songs don’t match in sales those of, say, Juan Luis Guerra.
Adams Morgan, via the Internet