Author Margaret Randall shares the life story of a Cuban heroine on Tuesday, April 19 at 2 p.m. in the Willard Room in the west wing of Zimmerman Library.

Haydée Santamaría was the only woman to participate in every phase of the Cuban Revolution. A trusted member of Fidel Castro's inner circle, she took part in its first armed action in 1953, endured the torture and killings of family and friends, assumed a leadership role in the underground movement, and smuggled weapons into Cuba.

Following the Revolution's victory she founded and ran the Casa de las Americas, which attracted cutting-edge artists, exposed Cubans to some of the world's greatest creative minds, and protected queer, black, and feminist artists from state repression.

Santamaría's suicide in 1980 caused confusion and discomfort throughout Cuba. Despite her commitment to the Revolution, communist orthodoxy's disapproval of suicide prevented the Cuban leadership from mourning and celebrating her in the Plaza of the Revolution.

Margaret Randall
Margaret Randall

Margaret Randall, who has authored dozens of books of poetry and prose, offers an impressionistic portrait of her friend Haydée Santamaría in her latest book, “Haydée Santamaría, Cuban Revolutionary: She Led by Transgression.” Published by Duke University Press in 2015, this work illustrates how one woman can help change the course of history.

This event is the collaborative effort of University Libraries, Latin American and Iberian Institute, Department of History, and Feminist Research Institute.

The Center for Southwest Research and Special Collections holds Randall's papers and manuscripts. Items from the collection will be on view in Willard Room. Find out more about Margaret Randall and her work in the Rocky Mountain Online Archive.