Not against my family as such because you must remember that, although my father is a Conservative, my grandfather the Colonel was a Liberal. My political ideas probably came from him to begin with because, instead of telling me fairy-tales when I was young, he would regale me with horrifying accounts of the last civil war that free-thinkers and anti-clerics waged against the Conservative government. My grandfather also told me about the massacre of the banana workers which took place in Aracataca the year I was born. So you see my family influenced me towards rebellion rather than towards upholding the established order.
In my secondary school in Zipaquirá. It was full of teachers who’d been taught by a Marxist in the Teachers Training College under President Alfonso López’s leftist government in the thirties. The algebra teacher would give us classes on historical materialism during break, the chemistry teacher would lend us books by Lenin and the history teacher would tell us about the class struggle. When I left that icy prison I’d no idea where north and south were but I did have two very strong convictions. One was that good novels must be a poetic transposition of reality, and the other was that mankind’s immediate future lay in socialism.
I belonged to a cell for a short time when I was twenty, but I don’t remember doing anything of interest. I was more of a sympathizer than a real militant. Since then my relationship with the Communists has had many ups and downs. We’ve often been at loggerheads because every time I adopt a stance they don’t like, their newspapers really have a go at me. But I’ve never publicly condemned them, even at the worst moments.
It did affect my political ideas quite decisively. If you think back, I put my impressions of that trip on record at the time in a series of articles for a Bogotá magazine. The articles were pirated and published some twenty years later—not, I imagine, out of any journalistic or political interest, but to show up the supposed contradictions in my personal political development.
No, there were not. I made the book legal and included it in the volumes of my complete works which are sold in popular editions on every street corner in Colombia. I haven’t changed a single word. What’s more, I think an explanation of the origins of the current Polish crisis is to be found in those articles which the dogmatists of the time said were paid for by the United States. The amusing thing is that those dogmatists today, twenty-four years later, are ensconced in the comfortable armchairs of the bourgeois political and financial establishment while history is proving me right.
The central premise of those articles is that the Peoples’ Democracies were not authentically socialist nor would they ever be if they followed the path they were on, because the system did not recognize the specific conditions prevailing in each country. It was a system imposed from the outside by the Soviet Union through dogmatic, unimaginative local Communist Parties whose sole thought was to enforce the Soviet model in a society where it did not fit.
I think our decision to leave Prensa Latina was correct. If we’d stayed on, with our views, we’d have ended up being slung out with one of those labels on our forehead—counter-revolutionary, imperialist lackey and so on—that the dogmatists of the day used to stick on you. What I did, if you remember, was to remove myself to the sidelines. I watched the evolution of the Cuban process closely and carefully while I wrote my books and filmstrips in Mexico. My view is that although the Revolution took a difficult and sometimes contradictory course after the initial stormy upheavals, it still offers the prospect of a social order which is more democratic, more just and more suited to our needs.