Saturday, February 03, 2007

Cuba: Open Debate by Intellectuals Shows Changes

Unión de Escritores y Artistas de Cuba (UNEAC)

Though I think the significance of this meeting is a bit overplayed (there have been many similar scenes in Cuba), the way this was handled by the Government does say something. Granma printed the whole unhappy statement from the Union, the Culture Ministry convened a timely meeting/hearing and appears to be backtracking.

In the first sign of internal dissent in Cuba since Fidel Castro ceded power six months ago, intellectuals held a forum to discuss government censorship in the 1970s.

One by one, Cuban artists and intellectuals in Havana did something unprecedented this week: They stood before the government and criticized a particularly harsh era of censorship -- out loud and in the open.

Perhaps even more surprising than the conference held Tuesday to discuss a dark period of Cuban cultural oppression was what happened outside: a protest by those shut out of the invitation-only event. Also out loud and in the open.

''I don't know how important it can be, but what's true is that I have never seen anything like that in Cuba,'' Cuban writer Ena Lucía Portela told The Miami Herald in an e-mail. ``It was rudimentary, passionate, incoherent, but it was the closest thing to freedom of expression I have seen in this country in my entire life.''

In a move that Cuba experts say signals a significant shift in Cuban domestic policy, the government led by interim President Raúl Castro appears to be cracking open the door to debate. After Castro publicly asserted he was open to discussion, and later convened a committee to study flaws of socialism, experts say there has been a clear changing of the guard in Cuba, one that allows at least controlled discussion.

In the first sign of internal dissent since Fidel Castro ceded power six months ago, intellectuals furious over the television appearances of 1970s-era government officials responsible for a crackdown on intelligentsia convened a conference to discuss it. But while the event was an extraordinary display of criticism, opponents of the Castro brothers point out that the conference was not open to the public, suggesting that the steps the government has taken toward discussion are small and wobbly. MORE



Anonymous Anonymous said...

The "FIRST" sign of internal dissent? Are you kidding?

6:34 PM  
Blogger leftside said...

"First sign of dissent since Fidel ceded power." I didn't right that, the Miami Herald did.

I wrote that there have been other scenes like this throughout Cuban history - of mass organizations disagreeing with the bureacracy.

8:43 AM  

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