Marta Rojas was really good at narrating, with great enthusiasm and delight, and proved to have an outstanding memory. Marta Rojas was great at talking, writing, and leaving testimony. It was like she treasured a lot of stories and had the absolute need to share them all. She was always willing to dialogue. And the younger the audience, the better she felt. Her vitality was catchy as well as her desire to live. She arrived in places and everything livened up. Marta was a restless spirit. “You can lose a lot of thing with the passing of years, it is the law of live; but you cannot lose curiosity, your smile, and the capacity to love” — she told me once.
One day, before all of the aforementioned virtues blossomed, Alejo Carpentier described her as “a novelist by instinct.” He referred to that capacity to mix up unexpected events, with rhythm and skill, which were notable in her reports. Over the years, she confirmed such assessment of the famous writer. Such narrative strength in her journalistic career was cemented in her literary world. “I can accept that someone may not like the stories I tell, but I will never, not even by chance, bore those who choose to read me. A novel must have substance, but also spice” —she used to say.
She was always interested in stories. The great story, that of nations, great events and individuals, and the peoples’ deeds. And the most intimate story, that of small passions and more or less personal initiatives. “The second —she stated— is usually the driving force behind the first one. It is the journalist’s job to find those bridges, motives.”
She was, to many, “the Moncada’s reporter.” There was coincidence in that circumstance, tricks of destiny: being at the right place at the right time. But it is not enough. You need to have determination, courage, common sense, intellectual skills, service vocation…She had enough of all of them. Her narratives about the attack and its consequences, the legal proceeding, protagonists, her personal assessment on the event significance…became major documents for the national historiography.
And not only the Moncada. Another milestone in her prolific career was her work in Vietnam in the middle of its war and the Revolution, an experienced that left profound marks on her. “Vietnam was a wakeup call for me in several aspects I did not care much about. Hence, I strengthened my hope in the human race and its resilience.”
Heroine of Labor of the Republic of Cuba, José Martí National Journalism Award, Marta Rojas was an undisputable symbol of Cuba’s journalism. She knew it, but she never boasted in so silly arrogance. “My job is to continue producing as long as I feel strong. And I always feel strong. I do not pay too much attention to my ailments. I am young because I feel young. And youth, somehow, may be also a choice.”
Translated by Sergio A. Paneque Díaz / CubaSí Translation Staff