Fidel Castro used to fact-check Gabriel Garcia Marquez's manuscripts
Fidel Castro and Gabriel Garcia Marquez were two of the most dominant figures of 20th century Latin America: Castro for spearheading a revolution in Cuba and later becoming the country’s long-serving dictator, and Garcia Marquez for writing some of the most ineffable works of global literature, from One Hundred Years of Solitude to Love in the Time of Cholera. As it turns out, these two legends even worked together sometimes.
Dr. Stéphanie Panichelli-Batalla, a lecturer in Latin-American Studies at Aston University in Birmingham, wrote a book about the relationship between Castro and Garcia Marquez’s relationship in 2009 called Fidel and Gabo (referring to Garcia Marquez’s affectionate nickname among Latin Americans). Panichelli-Batalla told The Guradian that Castro and Garcia Marquez’s relationship blossomed from their 1977 meeting to the point that the Cuban leader would help fact-check the Colombian author’s manuscripts.
“After reading his book The Story of a Shipwrecked Sailor, Fidel had told Gabo there was a mistake in the calculation of the speed of the boat. This led Gabo to ask him to read his manuscripts,” Panichelli-Batalla told The Guardian. “Another example of a correction he made, later on, was in Chronicle of a Death Foretold, where Fidel pointed out an error in the specifications of a hunting rifle.”
Their relationship is also evident in some of the books included in García Marquez’s personal library, recently acquired by the University of Texas. One copy of Castro’s La Victoria Estrategica includes a personal note from the author addressed to “Gabo,” in which Castro compares the then-recent earthquake devastation in Haiti to Love in the Time of Cholera and tells his friend, “enslaved by other obligations, I abandoned my duty and started reading. I missed your stories.”