The Center for the Opening and Development of Latin America’s (CADAL) Democratic Solidarity Program presented the Chilean author and diplomat an award for his work in Cuba during a three months stay in 1971. For CADAL’s director, Gabriel Salvia, the author of Persona Non Grata “is an emblematic figure and pioneer in the history of committed diplomacy in Cuba.”
CADAL has presented the Award for Committed Diplomacy in Cuba, an award that seeks to recognize the work of accredited diplomats to Cuba, since 2009. More specifically, the award recognizes those who have already finished their mission and whose work was characterized by bringing recognition, providing support, and stimulating the work of the members of the Cuban civic movement and their efforts in defending human rights and peacefully promoting democracy. This initiative by CADAL is inspired in part by the humanitarian gestures on behalf of various foreign diplomats during the Southern Cone’s military dictatorships. Likewise, the award was founded on the recognition of the importance of acts of international solidarity with countries where regimes repress fundamental liberties, as is the case in Cuba.
CADAL first presented the award during its founding year in 2003, and, since then, there have been 5 editions of the award, recognizing a total of 12 diplomats who have worked in Cuba. Those eligible to nominate someone for the award are pro-democracy activists living in Cuba and the family members of politically persecuted people and prisoners. The plaque for the Special Award for Committed Diplomacy in Cuba reads as follows: “For your pioneering and inspirational work constructing a bridge of solidarity with democratic Cubans.”
As described in an article published in El Mundo de España, Jorge Edwards’ (Santiago de Chile, 1931) novel Persona non grata is the product of his personal experiences during his time as a diplomat in Cuba at a time when Fidel Castro and Salvador Allende were governing in their respective countries. The book takes a deep look at the relationship between authors and intellectuals and totalitarian power. The article reminds us that Edwards was one of the first Latin American intellectuals to distance himself from Castro’s regime. In 1971, he arrived to Havana tasked with the important mission of resuming diplomatic relations between Cuba and Chile. However, his stay on the island lasted no more than three months, after basically being expelled by the regime.
The presentation of the Special Award for Committed Diplomacy in Cuba was accompanied by a video message by leading Cuban democratic activist Manuel Cuesta Morúa, Cuban resident and winner of the 2016 Ion Ratiu Prize, awarded by the Woodrow Wilson Center.