Fidel, just as he was


Granma | August 19, 2019

Photo: Valiente, Jorge

Only a careful curatorial eye allowed press photographer Jorge Valiente and journalist Sahily Tabares to create the book Fidel es un país, an iconography of the Cuban Revolution’s leader that captures him just as he was.

Colleagues and life companions, the authors made a selection from among more than a thousand shots Valiente has of the Comandante en Jefe, photos taken in the exercise of his profession, first for the newspaper Revolución,and later Granma. His existence just as it was lived.

Likewise, Sahily Tabares complements the book, providing context for the photos, the significance of an event or place, given that each one has its own story.

For example, Fidel’s special closeness with children can be noted, so much so that the decision was made to use a shot capturing one of these moments on the simple, attractive cover.

The unpublished photos, not ordered chronologically, provide a snapshot of Fidel’s daily life, interacting with workers, teachers, scientists, athletes, artists, during the inaugurations of research and cultural centers, cutting cane, and the last voyage of the Granma along Havana’s waterfront, with Army General Raúl Castro.

Photo: Valiente, Jorge

A few short but rich lines from Nobel Prize for Literature winner Gabriel García Márquez reflect what Valiente was able to capture: When he talks to people on the street, the conversation takes on the expressiveness and raw frankness of real affection. They call him: Fidel. They surround him without posing any risk, they get familiar, argue, contradict him, make demands, with an immediate transmission channel through which the truth circulates in spurts. This is when the unique human being is unveiled, when the brightness of his own image blinds.”

In terms of the photos, noteworthy is the use of black and white, plus the accurate framing, proper composition and perspective, revealing the Valiente’s expertise in focusing the camera.

The recent presentation of Fidel es un país, from the Verde Olivo publishing house, took place in the Union of Cuban Writers and Artists’ Martínez Villena Hall, as a worthy literary and graphic tribute on the 93rd birthday of the Comandante en Jefe.

In his opening remarks, Tabares said: “As members of Uneac we are pleased to celebrate this anniversary of Fidel’s birth here today, with a work that visualizes him and keeps him alive in action and thought.”


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