In the Orwellian Cuba of the 1980s, Monika Krause was a fresh wind of sexual freedom, a hammer breaking down prejudices and a bullhorn for repressed desires that didn’t find acceptance in the public discourse. The story of her life is also a journey through a country full of yearning, fear, and disruption.
With this memoir, the name of the German-Cuban Monika Krause, moves onto the select roster of Europeans whose work makes it possible to understand Cuba. The young Monika moved to Cuba out of love, and she remained there for many years out of love for the island. During her Cuban years—a life—Monika Krause dedicated her intelligence and sensitivity to the study of a central subject: sexuality, a particularly thorny and neglected subject in the middle of the social chaos caused by the Revolution. Monika Krause had the civil courage to become the public standard-bearer for a coherent policy on sexuality. She intervened systematically on radio, in the press, and in social organizations, until she became one of the best-loved people in the country, and more than that, a symbol. Like so many other Cubans who at one time believed that the Revolution would bring us utopia, myself included, Monika Krause came to understand that all those proclaimed ideals barely obscured the dictatorship of a caudillo, a tyrant, and she decided then to return to her origins in Germany.
As I reflect about Mónika Krause’s Cuban memoirs, I recall, again and again, with that force of permanence that only prophecies have, the words a friend told me the first time we saw the Queen of Condoms presenting a sex education book to a large audience, as early as 1980: “We have to build a monument to that crazy woman“. And that exclamation was owing to the fact that in this presentation, some cultural leaders, obviously repeating a speech that the politicians had asked them to defend, attempted to question the need for the Cuban young people to have access to that kind of literature. She defended herself like a lioness, but the best part was when she made everyone blush. She started talking about sex in all its gory details, nonstop, and the only thing missing was that she didn’t call those who denied the importance of this subject apes.
Two years after your departure, your memory, your gentle, clear-sighted and loving voice, is still engraved in my ears, and your image is still alive, associated with love, optimism and the struggle for life. What an epic ending to your Memoirs, Monika! You wonder if it was worth giving up your youth and your sacrifice. You wonder if you were able to make just one person question her or his attitude, if you were able to channel the solution to just one problem. I tell you: "I am that person". And you know that, like me, there were many other women who received the seed of your light. So today I repeat to you, wherever you are, as I have done so many times before: Yes, it was worth it!