Friday, January 19, 2007

Cuban artists' union enters censor debate

Miami Herald
Posted on Fri, Jan. 19, 2007

Cuban artists' union enters censor debate
A union of Cuban writers and artists expressed indignation, and apparent resignation, over the reappearance of a government censor.

From Miami Herald Staff and Wire Reports

HAVANA - The Cuban government's union of writers and artists on Thursday backed intellectuals who protested the recent TV reappearance of a censor blamed for Stalinist-type purges in the 1970s, but issued what appeared to be a warning that limits remain on criticisms of Fidel Castro's revolution.

The statement by the National Union of Cuban Artists and Writers appeared aimed at defusing a fiery and unusually public debate among Cuban intellectuals on and off the island about the former censor's TV appearance. Two other former hard-line culture officials also appeared on TV recently.

Published in the Communist Party daily Granma, the union's statement said it shared the ''just indignation'' of intellectuals disturbed by the resurfacing of the official.

But it blamed part of the controversy on people abroad ''obviously working for the enemy'' and concluded by noting that Cuba's 'anti-dogmatic, creative and participatory cultural policy maintained by Fidel and Raúl [Castro], founded with `Some Words to the Intellectuals,' is irreversible.''

''Some words to the intellectuals'' refers to a famous 1961 speech in which Fidel Castro warned an audience of intellectuals that there were limits to criticism of his government: ``Within the Revolution, everything. Outside the Revolution, nothing.''

The words were later taken as the basis for crackdowns on intellectuals during the 1960s and '70s known in Cuba as the Quinquenio Gris -- the gray 15-year period.

In Miami, a website run by pro-Havana commentator Francisco Aruca said a seminar on Quinquenio Gris: Revisiting the Term, will be held Jan. 30 at the Cuban Film Institute in Havana, apparently as part of the settlement of the dispute over the reappearance of the censor.

Since censor Luis Pavón Tamayo's TV appearance, Cuban writers on the island and in exile have engaged in a spirited debate about what it all meant -- a public dispute specially unusual because of Fidel Castro's current illness.

Castro ceded his powers provisionally to his brother Raúl on July 31.

Raúl Castro recently has been campaigning for fearless and critical debate within the confines of the island's communist system.

In the flap about the former censor, the union statement did not name Pavón, who was president of Cuba's National Culture Council from 1971 to 1976.

During those years, writers and artists were expelled from their jobs for being gay or not toeing the government line. Some were hounded into exile. Beatles music, and even long hair, were banned on the island.

The statement said union leaders had met with writers who worried that the new appearances by Pavón and the others could ``express a tendency other than the political culture that has guaranteed and will guarantee our unity.''

No comments: