domingo, 13 de abril de 2008

7. Congress of the Cuban Writers and Artists Union (UNEAC): THE CUBAN SOCIETY WATCHES ITSELF ON THE INSIDE

(Members of the presidence of the Congress. From left to right: the writer Miguel Barnet, the Cuban president Raúl Castro, and the Culture Minister, Abel Prieto)


(Resumen en español. Spanish version: )

If something left me the 7th Congress of the Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba (UNEAC), developed from the 1 to the 4 of April of 2008 in Havana, is the impression of a new spirit in the Cuban society and its high sphere: to listen, including those opinions that are located in a critical cord.

Many who spoke −that is my impression, I repeat− they could say sincerely what they thought. It was a thought congress, of multiple and plural thoughts, the one which from the ideas marked distance once and for ever with the sequels of the ominous Seventies for the Cuban culture.

And as it is known, the Cuban president, Raúl Castro −always sparing in his speeches−, he said few words at the end of the encounter, among them a good significant:

“…the greater discrepancies, will leave the best decisions”.

For the ones who live in Cuba, attached to this island, from the loyalty to the commitment, dreaming among the shortages, this Congress gives us breath of hopes.

I was honored to be part of the members who attend to the Congress. I have selected few opinions of the Cuban culture personalities taking into account my own notes.


Alfredo Guevara, for example, abounded on the constant changes with institutions and projects:

Permanent urgency to go to "the emergency", improvising without truce, must more be put under than study to investigation; to study to devastate with that mistaken method and, sometimes, source of abuses. We would have time and time again to ask why that level of improvisation, why as much lack of foresight? The general answer is very simple, design deficiency "

And it added:

"I will say then that the worse enemy of the revolutions is the ignorance".

The intervention of the thinker and essayer Graziela Pogolotti puts the finger in that sore:

“... I listened by the television that said that already at this moment the teacher is not the protagonist because the protagonist is going to be the student, and in that expression, if there is no a concept error has, at least, a confusion in the way to say it.

“The teacher is the prop of all system of education, his authority is the one that has to be present in the classroom, inmanent authority. Rebuild that tradition is to rescue a patrimony. It is necessary to reconsider the treatment to the teacher and its social recognition ".

On other formatives edges the composer Robert Valera insisted, when describing the manifest cases of social indiscipline of the young people in our society. He mentioned, for example, "the crazy person vandalism” untied in buses during the summer time:

“And it hurts that after so much work in the education of our people, still there are young people thus, hollows, emptinesses…”

“Why, next to the young as much valuable, we produce still as much dreg.... We cannot boast of being an educative potency because education is not single instruction.

I hope that the Ministeries of Education, and other compatible organizations, take note from these calls.


The mass media were front sight of several of which took part in the plenary, and in the commissions.

In Cuba, luckily, the television has never been seen like as a evasion channel.

The actor and director Rolly Peña indicated that one of the causes of this is the crisis in the preparation of technical and artistic crew, and by that route, before the lack of proposals or the repetitions of programs, would gain the fight the average alternative that would pass to be the massifs means.

Rolando Núñez asked for support to UNEAC in the search to solve the discrimination of the Cuban actors in the coproductions.

The foreign part, he refers, usually deals with them as actors second order and receive an inferior payment by its work, thematic of which also other Latin American actors suffer.

The dear actor Enrique Molina proposed that the National Council of the UNEAC becomes “jealous guard of artistic education in the country”, with constant controls to check the professor cluster and the study programme.

The Cuban public is eager for the national proposals, with his subjects, his scenes and their actors, even though we cannot forget the lack of resources. Luckily, in the congress there was the announcement of a 9 million budget for the TV necessities.

TV artists reclaimed for the needs of rescuing the creation spirit that enhances the respect of directors to the actors.


The awarded composer Jose Maria Vitier argued about the new technologies, and of “the impossibility to acquire really such means…. not concerning a policy of prohibitive prices… is necessary not to confuse technology with ideology”.

On the subject of the debate in Internet Rafael Hernandez director of the magazine Temas, expressed itself: “we must create serious spaces in Internet about Cuban culture, spaces of discussion. And those spaces not only can be official ones.

The popular composer and singer Juan Formell emphasized that some places “there are much scared to the popular music orchestra because they say the struggle sometimes it causes… can we perform in Paris, but we cannot touch in the Amphitheatre of the Avenue of the Puerto… the orchestras cannot appear in five stars hotels”

The critical well-known of cinema, Rolando Perez Betancourt noticed on the possible appearance of old censures. For instance, the film “Brokeback Mountain” (the history of two homosexual cowboys), that has not been exhibited.

The writer Victor Fowler, one of the vanguards of the more recent Cuban thought pointed his considerations:

"… is not to make images of permanently glad multitudes, but to know the truth, this last one that cannot be reached without political will and desire. We spoke of marginality, but it is hard to know nothing about that by our mass media. Neither of racism, nor of poverty, nor of homophobia, corruption, street violence, spaces of bureaucratization, absence of debate and many other aspects of which really it matters of the life ".

The famous actor Luis Alberto García emphasized that “the Cuban revolution is a love act, its ideas are defended with culture and not with hatred”.

He emphasized the necessity to eliminate the list of interpreters prohibited in the radio and the television.

“I will continue teaching to my daughter that Celia Cruz is as important for the Cuban culture as Paradiso novel, written by Jose Lezama Lima”.

Also subjects about the marginality, racism, the distribution of films of the young producers were approached, el excess of didactism y apology in the mass media.

On this last aspect, it turned the dramatist and the poet Norge Espinosa:

“The diversity is the understanding, not the tolerance… not an answer of number, but of balance and assumption without prejudice”.

Between the ideas more also focused the “metropolitan hegemony” (the lack of balance between the appearance of places and actors from Havana and the rest of the country) in the promotion of the national culture.


The historian of Havana, Eusebio Leal said in his speech about Cuban diversity:

“I am not ashamed of whom are outside, because my children are outside, and I will never be ashamed of my condition of father, nor never I will deny them the name of Cuban… as long as they do not conduct military operations against the mother country that saw them be born…”

The historian gave a thrust to other prejudices:

“When you see someone passing by … someone different, he needs to feel respect, he needs to feel esteem; never say again, just once at the beginning of the Cuban revolution: “there goes a negroe”; never say again: “there goes a homosexual”… we have fight for freedom, then we must respect our differences. This is what we have achieved in this Congress, and that is why we are here now.”

I am eye witness, I was there.

(Taken in a break time)


In the closing of the Congress, the Minister of Culture, Abel Prieto Jiménez emphasized that it is not possible to be an anti-imperialist doctor Jekill by day and Mr Hyde given to Hollywwod at night.

Also he indicated the necessity of “solid cultural references” and to support the production and distribution of audio-visual.

“The idea to please the taste has been used like pretext to reproduce banal tastes. It is necessary to study the existing patterns of taste, without prohibiting”, aimed.

Also, we have to look for the deep causes of “depredator conducts in the new young” people and look for new formulas to promote the talent.

The Minister mentioned several positive examples as the increase of the appreciation of the concert music, the number of radial broadcasting in the country (91) and the existence of places like the cultural center “The Mejunje” (Villa Clara) place for the art, from the cultural hierarchy and the diversity.

“It would be necessary to make a chain of Mejunjes just like the network of McDonalds”, he indicated.

In this days we have been surprised by the news that Cubans can already lodge in the hotels, the sales of DVD, cellular telephones.... prohibited its sale many years ago…

I hope that, in good of all, to continue leaving the prohibitions and shortages, and achieve available prices for products and services. Our goals will not appear by miracle, Cubans must work for them in this multiple and plural atmosphere.

I have felt proud to be Cuban, by the rebellious root of Antonio Maceo and that assertion of José Martí: to “being cultured is the only way of being free”.

(Translated: Automatical translation
Translation asesor: Magda Esther Aguilar Domínguez)

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