Inter Press Service
3) IPS - The decade of cultural liberalization here could be ending, with an
across-the-board ideological reaffirmation from the Fidel Castro government.
Limitations on cultural liberalization are expected to result from a closed
meeting of the National Union of Cuban Writers and Artists (UNEAC) held with
with the President yesterday.
The meeting was organized to prepare a congress where the successor to the
UNEAC President Abel Prieto and culture minister designate will be chosen.
The state radio station reported that Castro had given a nine-hour speech at
the meeting, but that for the time being, little or no information had been
released on the conclusions reached by the meeting or the President's
Intellectual circles have been concerned about the possibility of a return
to the previous grey era of Cuban culture since the new parliament took over on
The inauguration ceremony took place a month after the visit of Pope John
Paul II to the country, an event that brought an atmosphere of religious and
political tolerance and presented the need to open broad national dialogue.
But this new parliament came in after the government granted a pardon to 299
prisoners in January.
Foreign Minister Roberto Robaina stated the mass pardon did not mean new
openings would be offered for the internal opposition nor had it been a gesture
to win a more flexible attitude toward the island from Washington.
The United States is calling for "fundamental changes" in the
Cuban policy as a first requisite to even partially lifting the blockade imposed
on the island since the early sixties.
These "changes" include the freeing of all political prisoners,
the creation of an independent judicial system, respect for individual
liberties, the holding of free election and the disappearance of the State
Since 1995, Cuban analysts have been speaking of the possibility of an
ideological offensive by the authorities to coincide with the beginning of the
economic revival following the crisis provoked by the disappearance of the
Communist bloc in Europe.
A report from the political bureau of the ruling Communist Party in 1996,
strongly criticized representatives of the academic world for publishing, both
within Cuba and abroad, work with criteria alien to the official line.
Castro, recently elected for the fifth consecutive term at the head of the
Council of State, used his re-election speech to, amongst other things, attack
the works of art which criticize the current socialist system.
The leader referred to films made on the island with state resources, which "are
not a call to battle and resistance" and could even be classed at "counterrevolutionary
"Transmitting the idea that all revolution and socialism is bureaucracy
and poverty is to discredit the ideas of a country where the lives of 300,000
children have been saved and infant mortality is at 7.2 per 1,000 live births,"
Although no names were mentioned, Castro concentrated his criticism on "Guantanamera,"
the last film co-directed by master of Cuban cinema Tomas Gutierrez Alea, who
died in 1996.
The words of the president were interpreted as a call to a return to
socialist realism as a dominant tendency in art, something which had been
overcome by the cultural policy of this country for more than a decade.
Cuban art, in writing, painting and sculpture, cinema, theater and music, is
characterized by the view that the current situation of the island is a problem
and its ability to bind tradition with the most modern and universal tendencies.
"It tears at my heart, but I am more sure than ever of my revolutionary
socialist convictions," said president of the Cuban Institute of
Cinematographic Industry and Art (ICAIC) Alfredo Guevara in a declaration of how
he would take the change last Friday.
Guevara, a close companion of Castro since he was 19 years old, defended the
revolutionary attitude and principles of the members of the ICAIC directorship
and the artists.
He said he was sure the information had not flowed to the President "in
an adequate manner," declaring himself certain Castro was still dedicated
to doing justice, a passion he has maintained since his youth.
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