Culture and Revolution

Culture and Revolution

Not by chance, October 20th was chosen as the Day of the Cuban Culture. I remember how, with so much pride, Armando Hart reiterated the importance that the date on which the Bayamo Hymn was sung for the first time served to pay tribute to the men and women who are the protagonists of the national cultural life.

Thus, Hart said, the organic identification between our creators and the patriotic, anti-slavery and anti-colonial ideals of 1868, later enriched by Jose Marti, Mella, Guiteras, and Fidel Castro, had been synthesized in an excellent way.

The triumphant Revolution in 1959 received the enthusiastic support from the overwhelming majority of the Cuban artists and writers. Many, even, who lived abroad, returned to the Island in order to join in the construction of a new world.

Although the aggressiveness of the US began very early, through pressure and threats, the attacks, the bombings, the financing of armed gangs and a fierce media campaign, the revolutionary government did not neglect the promotion of the Cuban culture: it founded the ICAIC, the House of the Americas, the National Printing Office, and the first school of art instructors, while also carried out the Literacy Campaign.

According to Carpentier, the times of solitude had ended for the Cuban writer and those of solidarity had begun. And it is that the Revolution formed a massive and avid public for the arts and letters. It also gave space to the most genuine and discriminated expressions of popular traditions and to the most audacious searches in various artistic genres.

Unable to perceive the deep links between the culture and the Revolution, the Yankees insisted on organizing groups of "dissidents" in the intellectual circles; but they failed again and again.

The case of Armando Valladares was the result of desperation: he was exhibited before the world as an invalid poet prisoner of his conscience. They even published a book of his poems with great publicity and a dramatic title:

From my wheelchair. But he was neither a poet nor a paralytic (he nimbly climbed the airplane's ladder when he was pardoned), he had a murky past as a police officer under the Batista´s tyranny and he had been sanctioned for terrorist activities.

Now, many years later, they present an alleged "movement" (called San Isidro), an alleged rapper who was prosecuted for contempt, and an alleged hunger strike made by a dozen alleged "young artists." They were backed by a strong campaign in the foreign press, in the digital media paid for the political subversion, and on the social media. They had the immediate support of Pompeo, Marco Rubio, Almagro and other characters.

Through the social networks, a rarefied climate was created, with an intense emotional charge, to elicit the expressions of adherence and moral support in the face of a hypothetical injustice.

As has been studied by many analysts, appealing to the emotions in the networks engulfs people in transitory sentimental communities, while paralyzes the ability to reason, judge and verify where the limits are between the reality and the fiction.

Many (most) of those who gathered last November 27th outside the doors of the Ministry of Culture were influenced by the atmosphere created on the social networks. Few knew what actually happened at San Isidro and its protagonists. Perhaps some of them had had one or another bad experience and they felt hurt. I think they honestly wanted to dialogue with the institution.

Others (a minority) participated with total conscience as part of a plan against the Revolution. They used the social networks to amplify what was happening there and to spread it in an adulterated way. The fake news were rolled out around an imaginary crackdown that included tear gas, pepper spray and alleged ambushes against the participants. They knew they were helping to justify Trump's policies against their country with lies. They were only interested in the "dialogue" to turn it into news, into a show, and score it as a victory. Some needed to justify the money they received.

However, it is necessary to clearly separate the cartoon from the marginal people of San Isidro and what actually happened at the Ministry of Culture. In the second case, there are valuable young people who must be listened.

The cultural policy of the Revolution has opened a wide and unprejudiced space for the creators to be able to do their work in total freedom. It is true that there have been errors, misunderstandings and blunders, but the revolutionary process itself has been in charge of rectifying them.

These institutions, together with the UNEAC and the Saiz Brothers Association, remain open to the frank debate with the Cuban artists and writers. If for some reason this dialogue is interrupted, there are appropriate communication channels available to resume it.

It is totally legitimate to discuss on how to consolidate the links between the creators and the institutions, regarding the experimental manifestations of art that have not yet been sufficiently understood, about the essential critical function of the artistic creation, about the "anything goes" of the postmodern vision, about the freedom of expression and many other topics.

What is not legitimate is the disrespect for the law, the pretense of using blackmail against the institutions, outraging the symbols of the country, seeking notoriety through provocation, participating in actions paid for by the enemies of the nation, collaborating with those who work to destroy it, joining the anti-Cuban chorus in the social networks, and stirring up hatred.

In the midst of the global crisis caused by the pandemic and the global neoliberalism, Cuba is simultaneously suffering unprecedented harassment from the US, which is why this moment has been chosen to finance these shows that offer a disfigured image of the country.

Any creator who approaches the Cuban institutions with legitimate objectives will find interlocutors willing to listen and to support him. With the phonies there is no possible dialogue.