Who is Celia Hart?
Some brief biographical notes
Celia Hart comes from a family of veteran Cuban revolutionaries who fought against the Batista dictatorship together with Fidel Castro. Celia Hart has been an outspoken defender of the political and revolutionary heritage of Leon Trotsky. Her recent articles on this subject, which have been published by the Spanish Marxist website El Militante and also on Marxist.com have provoked an intense debate on the question of Trotsky internationally.
Celia Hart with Alan Woods
Celia Hart was born in January 1962, just a few months after the Cuban missile crisis. Her mother, Haydée Santamaría, (“the most extraordinary person I have ever known”) was a revolutionary from the very early days, and participated together with Fidel Castro in the famous storming of the Moncada barracks, where she lost both her brother and her boyfriend.
Armando Hart, her father, began his political activities by a different route. In the dark days of the Batista dictatorship, when, as a young lawyer, he commenced his political agitation and became a student leader in the University. He was a member of the National Revolutionary Movement (Movimiento Nacional Revolucionario) led by García Barcena, a university professor who opposed Batista and was imprisoned even before the assault on the Moncada barracks.
Armando Hart and Haydée Santamaría were dedicated to the revolutionary cause and fought together with Fidel Castro and Che Guevara. When Batista was finally overthrown, Armando was made the first Minister of Education of the Revolution and Haydée Santamaría was made President of La Casa de las Américas (the House of the Americas), which she in effect founded.
Haydée was always opposed to “sovietization” – that is to the attempt to impose rigid Stalinist bureaucracy and dogmatic thought and methodology on Cuba. In La Casa de las Américas there was no room for either dogmatism or so-called socialist realism. She ran it together with a real galaxy of talent: Benedetti, Galich, Mariano Rodríguez and others. Tragically, she committed suicide in 1980. For his part, Armando Hart had a brilliant intellectual career, and at the present time, after more than twenty years as Cuban Minister of Culture, is in charge of the Oficina del Programa Martiano.
Celia comments: “I therefore grew up in the eye of the hurricane, between the tremendous passion of my mother and the intelligence and devotion to study of my father – both of them firmly inserted in the political life of Cuba.” In 1980, one month before her mother’s suicide, Celia decided to study physics in Havana University. Two years later she was sent to finish her studies in the University of Dresden in the German Democratic Republic.
“I continued my studies until graduating in 1987 – the first foreign female to graduate in this Faculty. I then returned to Havana, where I worked until one year ago in the University, publishing approximately 15 specialist works on magnetism and superconductivity. I also participated in about half a dozen congresses in Italy, Brazil and Argentina…
"In 2004 I was supposed to have finished my Doctorate in Physics, but as I was putting the final touches to a work on Philosophy, as part of my Doctorate I realized that my great love forPphysics was not an end in itself, but only a means to an end.”
Celia continues: “During my stay in the German Democratic Republic, I realized that there was a contradiction between the inevitability of Socialism to fight for a better world and the bureaucracy, the suffocating of all initiative and the apathy that I found in that country, in spite of the good living conditions. I was repelled by the excessive images of Honecker that one found in every shop window.
"In 1985 I returned to Cuba on holidays and confessed to my father my feelings of utter desperation. In response, my father opened a cupboard and got out four books: the three-volume Life of Trotsky
by Isaac Deutscher and Trotsky’s The Revolution Betrayed
. I devoured these books, but until a few months ago had no opportunity of reading the rest of Trotsky’s works.”
“From that time,” continues Celia, “everything began to fall into place like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. I understood how the Russian Revolution – and not only the Russian Revolution – had been betrayed and millions of comrades had been deceived.”
However, none of Celia’s works have so far been published, except a prologue to a book written by her mother entitled Haydée Speaks about the Moncada
(Haydée habla del Moncada). But lately, several of her writings have been published in the website of El Militante and Marxist.com and the Spanish magazine Marxismo Hoy.
"I have just returned after attending the International Conference of the Marxist tendency. It was a very important experience for me. I met some marvellous comrades from Pakistan, Israel, Spain, the United States... And I see that I am not alone, that the same ideas I defend are spreading all over the world. These are the ideas of the future. I thank all the comrades for the happiest summer of my life.
“A new and exciting chapter is opening for me. It is a very strange feeling. Less than a year ago I was a researcher in Physics in the University of Havana. Now I do not know what the future holds. But I do understand that science, and the scientific method, is the best method with which to carry out this passionate revolutionary struggle.”
and in Spanish: