Biography and History

Reinaldo Arenas, novelist, storywriter, poet, and essayist, was born in Holguín, Province of Oriente, Cuba, on July 16, 1943.

In 1962, he moved to Havana to enroll in the School of Planification and, later, in the Faculty of Letters at the Universidad de La Habana, where he studied philosophy and literature without completing a degree. The following year, he began working at the Biblioteca Nacional José Martí. During this time he wrote a number of short stories and the novel Celestino antes del alba, which in 1965 won a First Mention Award at the Cirilo Villaverde National Competition and was published by UNEAC (National Union of Cuban Writers and Artists) in 1967. In 1973, he was sent to prison after being charged and convicted for “ideological deviation” and for publishing abroad without official consent. In 1974, he was transferred to a rehabilitation camp until 1976, and in 1980, as part of the Port of Mariel exodus, he was exiled in the United States where he lived until his death in New York City, on December 7, 1990.

Source: From the finding aid for C0232

Biography and History

Reinaldo Arenas (1943-1990) was a Cuban poet, novelist, and playwright. He was born in the Oriente province of Cuba, near the city of Holguín. As a teenager Arenas joined the revolution that brought Fidel Castro to power in 1959. He moved to Havana in 1961. His first novel, Celestino antes del alba (1967; Singing from the Well), was the only one of his novels to be published in Cuba. Arenas grew critical of Castro's government, and during the 1970s, Arenas was imprisoned for his writings and open homosexuality. In 1980 Arenas fled to the United States as part of the Mariel Boatlift. Suffering from AIDS, Arenas committed suicide in 1990. Oneida Fuentes was the mother of Reinaldo.

Jorge Camacho (1934-2011) was a Cuban painter who lived in Paris from 1975 until his death in 2011. Margarita Camacho was his wife. The Camachos were close friends of Reinaldo Arenas.

Source: From the finding aid for C1428