“The insignificance of slavery bothers me”


Ildefonso Falcones recreates colonial Cuba in the novel ‘Esclava de la Libertad’. David Oler

He published his sixth novel, ‘Escala de la Libertad’, in which he describes the condition of the tyrannical workers.

antonio paniagua

Ildefonso Falcones (Barcelona, ​​1959) returns to bookstores with ‘Esclava de la Libertad’ (Grijalbo), a novel in which he addresses Spanish slavery in Cuba. Through the struggle for the freedom of two black women, a slave who communicates with the gods and a young mulatto woman who serves in the home of some of the Marquis, Falcons describes the reversal of the two eras, a Caribbean island But through the end. 19th century and those that have happened in Spain in the 21st century. The present moment is a counterpoint that allows the author to talk about the elite of blood and money it brings about: power, violence, and the oppression of the poor.

The Falcons do not give names or surnames to the beneficiaries of the horrors that were slavery, a prosperous occupation in whose shadow enormous wealth was accumulated. In the 19th century, the Cuban economy was oriented toward the production of tobacco and sugar, raw materials processed in so-called mills, which made intensive use of slave labor. “The slaves lived in dire conditions. The trivialization created by slavery bothers me, sometimes depicted as comic theatre. During the five-month harvest season from November, these people slept two hours a day. He died of sheer exhaustion, added to forced labor and whipping.

The writing of the book has been painful, not only because of the subject to which it relates, but because the cancer that has plagued the author for six years has reared its head again. While working on the project, 30% of Falcone’s liver and three pieces of his lung were removed. « It is audacious to say that you are fine when only five years have passed since its appearance … it is as if you have challenged the bug. It’s not attractive.”

On January 19, 1880, the Deputy Congress voted to abolish slavery in Cuba, ending one of the most infamous and unknown episodes in the history of Spain. Ours was one of the last countries to ban it. In the end, as the recruitment of slaves became more expensive, a quick solution was chosen. «It was proposed to effectively drive a kind of human livestock: women who gave birth to Creole slaves, who were more profitable than those who arrived as restricted».

lazy and lazy

In medical texts of the time, blacks were branded as lazy, lazy and indolent, despite the fact that they had a tiring day. Except for Yoruba religion, some outlets, which were populated by shamanic and vengeful deities, were left to slaves. They could have rebelled, but in the end they had to make a dastardly sacrifice. “They had little chance to oppose the whites. They could decide not to give their masters any more children and not to have abortions, or to stop working, which was achieved only by suicide.

Over the years, some of those slaves joined forces with their former masters to fight for Cuba’s independence from the metropolis. Blacks and mulatto fought for their freedom, and the Creole owners for their rights. Previously poorly equipped and with hardly any weapons, they could only wield sticks and at times did not even do so, only facing death with their fists. “The Spaniards were the only ones who had good equipment.”

Twenty years after the Durban Declaration against Racism and Xenophobia was approved, the author believes that little progress has been made in combating these outrages. On the contrary, racism takes new power from the hands of the extreme right.

“The slaves slept two hours a day. They died of sheer exhaustion, which included forced labor and whipping»

Correcting that disgrace is complicated because descendants are not responsible for the actions of their great-grandparents. However, the institutions and assets that arose in the heat of slavery survive today. «I do not point out, others have already done this. The Money Trail has been followed and it is not known where it ended. ,

After a two-year trial with the Treasury, Falcons has once again been acquitted of tax fraud, though he doesn’t have everything. “They will continue to appeal, but with two court decisions in my favor, it seems that we are on the right track. Talking about the crimes with which I have been trampled on seems absolutely meaningless ».

The Falcons don’t get along very well with criticism. He believes that many book commentators are not as independent as they promote, because they also write and sell books, so they are also subject to the publishing industry. He still speaks bitterly of the newspapers that assured him that writing ‘The Cathedral of the Sea’ had helped him more than morally acceptable. “It’s hard to get over those lies. But with a few exceptions, I have an amicable settlement with the media.”

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