Mario Benedetti (1920–2009) was a cultural critic and activist who worked as a journalist at many Uruguayan and international newspapers. In this case writing for Marcha, the Montevideo weekly, he reviews the seventh edition of the Exposición de La Habana (Cuba, 1968). The exhibition, organized by Cuba’s Casa de las Américas as it had been since 1962, was an official revolutionary event designed to facilitate a gathering of people involved in “literature, theater, protest songs, and printmaking.” During the 1960s and 1970s the institution became a cultural powerhouse in Latin America. Benedetti directed its Center for Literary Research from 1968 to 1971. Cuba was one of the countries where Benedetti lived in exile after the military dictatorship took over in Uruguay (1973). According to the writer, the Casa de las Américas became “the most active promoter of Latin American culture.” In 1968, Latin American attendance testified to the importance of the event: “77 artists from 9 countries” who were there not only out of artistic interest, but also to show their solidarity and support for the Casa’s cultural work and, by extension, the Cuban political regime. In Benedetti’s view, the U.S. blockade of Cuba motivated people to find alternative resources. In 1965 the Exposición de La Habana (started in 1962) created a Gran Premio de Grabado; Uruguayan printmakers who won that prize—especially those who specialized in woodcut printing, such as Antonio Frasconi (1919–2013)—contributed to the frequent honoring of exponents of that technique in Uruguay, including José Gamarra (b. 1934), Miguel Bresciano (1937–79), and Leonilda González (1923–2017). A significant number of the Uruguayan printmakers who exhibited at the Exposición de La Habana were members of the CGM (Club de Grabado de Montevideo), a leftist association that fostered ties to the international art community.
[As complementary reading, see the printmakers’s 1944 manifesto in the ICAA digital archive: “Artistas Grabadores del Uruguay” (1228293)].