Daughter of a Cuban Revolutionary

Every revolution has it fall guy, usually the intellectual, the thinker within the leadership. Needed during the struggle, when the revolution is done they are sidelined, exiled, executed. Russia had Leon Trotsky; Yugoslavia, Milovan Djilas.

Cuba had Raúl Chibás. He wrote the Manifesto Sierra Maestra in 1957, together with Fidel Castro and Felipe Pasos. At that time, they were fighting for democracy against Fulgencio Batista’s second dictatorship.

When the revolution was won, Castro, shunned by the USA, turned to the USSR. This meant promoting the Communist faction at the expense of democratic cadres. Chibás was out. As he said, he didn’t fight one dictator to replace him with another. In 1960, he and his family fled Cuba for their lives.

His daughter, the actor and educator Marisa Chibas, went back in 1993 to find her roots. She found more than she bargained for. Her uncle Edi, the prominent politician Eduardo Chibás, had committed suicide in 1951 in a darkly comic episode in which, embarrassed at his failure to provide the proof of government corruption that he’d promised, he decided to kill himself live on radio – unfortunately he did it during the commercial break, ruining the effect.

Chibás is driven to tell the story of her family and she tells it passionately, expertly and beautifully. The question she poses – when did capitalism and democracy became inextricably intertwined – is potent; the scene where she spreads photos of her family about the stage, curiously affecting. This terrific, essential show offers a touching tale of a daughter desperate to find her roots and a fascinating insight into the inner workings of a revolution. ¡Cuba! ¡Acuérdate!

– Craig Singer