27 Dec Ricardo Barber, Cuban actor who succeeded in New York, dies at 81
NEW YORK — Ricardo Barber, a stage actor who left Cuba after spending time in a forced-labor camp during Fidel Castro’s rule and became a core member of the Spanish-language troupe Repertorio Español in New York, died Dec. 17 in Manhattan. He was 81.
Mr. Barber was establishing himself as an actor in Havana when Castro came to power in 1959 in a communist revolution that was hostile to many things, including homosexuality. Mr. Barber was gay, and in the late 1960s he was placed in one of Castro’s “military units to aid production,” the agricultural labor camps known by the Spanish acronym UMAP, which were, as The New York Times put it in 1974, “for petty criminals, homosexuals, ‘pre-delinquents’ and other ‘potential dissenters’ — people who were not guilty of any wrongdoing, but had been sent to the camps because of their ‘attitude.’”
The experience changed Mr. Barber’s feelings toward his country. “I no longer believed in the revolution, and I began to see the bad in everything,” he said in 1998, when he and other Repertorio actors made an emotional return trip to Cuba.
He left in the mid-1970s, eventually settling in New York, where he joined Repertorio Español. He was a member of the company from 1981 until his retirement in 2014. Among the productions in which he appeared was “The Feast of the Goat,” an adaptation of Mario Vargas Llosa’s novel about Dominican despot Rafael Trujillo. Mr. Barber played Trujillo.