Haydée Santamaría, Cuban Revolutionary: She Led by Transgression
Casa de las Américas
Casa de las Américas is one of the most important arts institutions in Latin America. Founded and run by Haydée, it brought the world’s great artists to the Revolution and made their art available to the Cuban public. Despite a scant sixth grade education, Haydée informed herself and established meaningful relationships with cutting-edge artists, including Nobel laureates. She rejected the Socialist Realism favored in the Soviet Union at the time. And she supported and protected artists who fell prey to the Cuban leadership’s repressive periods. One of her legacies was a horizontal and truly democratic work ethic that set the stage for Casa’s continuation after her death. Following a detailed description of Casa’s work over the years, this chapter uses fragments of her correspondence, interviews with coworkers, and the author’s personal recollections to describe an institution that remains at the forefront of art’s role in social change. Moments of conflict are highlighted.