Recently there has been a controversy in the Cuban press over the murder of the General Secretary of the Cuban Federation of Sugar Workers in 1947. The journal of the Catholic diocese of Havana, Espacio Laical, published an article by Newton Briones Montoto arguing that he was not murdered by an army officer but was killed in self defence as he fired on the officer first while resisting arrest. Given that the Socialist History Society has recently published an Occasional Paper, Killing Communists in Havana, at the urging of comrades from the Institute of Cuban History and the history commission of the CTC trade union confederation, we wrote a reply based on the research for the SHS Occasional Publication and, to our surprise, the Espacio Laical published it. For those who read Spanish, the article can be found here…
by David Parker
The eloquent and powerful letters that make up this volume tell the extraordinary story of how two men who never met or spoke to each other became the closest of friends. It was all the more extraordinary given that Leslie Parker was a veteran member of the British Communist Party while Paul Zalud was a disillusioned former communist struggling to cope under the Stalinist regime imposed on his native Czechoslovakia after the Soviet invasion in August 1968. The relationship began inauspiciously when Leslie saw a letter from Paul in The Times and wrote to berate him for it. The unexpected result was an epistolary journey, conducted in defiance of the censors and concluded only by Leslie’s death, through which in Paul’s words they ‘became friends by wrestling with each other’.
This remarkable collection presents two very different yet complementary minds. Paul’s letters offer an incomparable insight into the processes of ‘normalisation’ whereby an entire country was disciplined; Leslie’s reveal his efforts to sustain his friend’s morale with humour and domestic reportage as well as incisive political commentary. Both men had an instinctive flair for juxtaposing the personal and political, blending the mundane and the philosophical in a literary discourse as moving as it is instructive.
Published by Bacquier Books