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A Commemorative Act in Honor of the 50th Anniversary of the Poet’s Confession

A virtual performance that will be streamed via social media

Date: April 27th, 2021



On April 27, 2021, twenty Cuban intellectuals will perform a choral reading of the confession of poet Heberto Padilla in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of his legendary auto-da-fe. The collective performance will be directed by Coco Fusco, with design by Hamlet Lavastida. The performance will be streamed online via Facebook and other social networks.


Heberto Padilla's confession took place on April 27, 1971 at the Union of Artists and Writers of Cuba, immediately after his release after thirty-six days of imprisonment and interrogation by Cuban state security agents. This ritualized public penance, in which he denounced himself, his wife and several close friends as counterrevolutionaries, sent shockwaves through literary circles and altered the world's view of the Cuban revolution. The confession was transcribed, published and distributed to embassies and press agencies as proof of the Cuban government's right to imprison the poet and strip him of his professional rights. However, the gesture failed as political theater and was seen abroad as Cuba's version of a Stalinist show trial. As a result of the negative international response, the film of the confession made by documentary filmmaker Santiago Alvarez was suppressed.


The event took place before an audience of Padilla's colleagues and served as a warning to the Cuban intelligentsia and a harbinger of what was to follow: a decade in which dozens of Cuban artists and writers were banished from public life.


"Why do we have to remember Padilla's tragic submission to the authority of the state?" asks the project's director, Coco Fusco. "Fifty years later, Cuban intellectuals are still fighting for the right to have rights, for the legitimacy of independent thought and creative endeavor. And they continue to be subjected to arbitrary arrests, harsh interrogations and social death. They live in Padilla's shadow".


Padilla's Shadow: A Commemorative Act is a project of the San Isidro International Movement and 27N.

Promotional Video


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