are confident in the Revolution’s
Amelia Duarte de la
The 8th Congress of the Union of
Cuban Artists and Writers (UNEAC) opened Friday,
April 11, at Havana’s Convention Center, with the
participation of José Ramón Machado Ventura, second
secretary of the Party Central Committee and a vice
president of the Councils of Ministers and State;
Miguel Díaz–Canel Bermúdez, member of the Party
Central Committee Political Bureau and Vice
President of the Council of Ministers and State;
Julián González Toledo, minister of Culture; Abel
Prieto, advisor to the President of the Councils of
State and Ministers; Miguel Barnet, president of the
Congress organizing committee; and more than 300
delegates from around the country, representatives
of national associations and provincial UNEAC
Making the inaugural comments during
the first plenary session, Barnet began by saying
that Cuba’s artists and writers had arrived at the
8th Congress "with confidence in our principles and
the Revolution’s cultural policy."
Presenting the Central Report to be
considered, he described UNEAC as an exceptional
entity on a planet in which self-interest and wars
of plunder prevail.
"It is a privilege to have an
organization like this one, in a persecuted and
blockaded country such as ours. UNEAC has done
nothing more, since its inception, than serve the
most noble ideals of the Revolution," Barnet said.
"The fate of our country’s culture,
has been, is, and will always be the central concern
of UNEAC, with the certainty that this is the
highest expression of our policy, and, as Fernando
Ortiz said, the soul of the nation."
Recognizing that much work remains
to be done, Barnet called upon the organization’s
more than 9,000 members to become "everyday more
reflective and consistent, given the necessary and
urgent process of change which is underway in Cuba’s
economic and social life."
"Our members are obliged to
contribute to the improvement of spiritual and
material life, with precise diagnosis and
constructive proposals, which address society’s most
Barnet also reviewed the
organization’s accomplishments achieved since the
last Congress, and highlighted discussions held
prior to this 8th Congress.
"We held eight National Council
meetings in which a broad agenda covering the social
and cultural reality was debated. Preparatory
discussions reaffirmed the importance of defending
cultural institutions which channel and support
creativity, but also revealed the urgent need for a
renovation which includes the rationalization of
their structures and mechanisms, to make them truly
flexible, operational and adapted to both the need
to promote the work of writers and artists, and the
new economic scenarios emerging in the country."
Barnet reaffirmed, "The improvement
of our cadre policy in the cultural sector is
absolutely necessary, to ensure that those who are
making day to day decisions identify with the very
nature of creativity, establish a real relationship
with writers and artists, and are alert to the
spiritual needs of the population."
He additionally addressed questions
related to the restructuring of the organization and
policies to be implemented, saying, "In our forums
and debates, we must prioritize issues of
creativity, the analysis of contemporary aesthetic
trends and their reflection in our daily work. We
are not a professional group, as many may believe.
Neither are we an executive body which dictates laws
or issues regulatory documents. We are an
organization which should promote culture and, in
this way, contribute to strengthening the nation’s
"It is our duty to confront, as we
have, all forms of corruption and indiscipline,
waste and disorder, which contradict the very
essence of UNEAC."
Speaking to the deterioration of
civic and ethical values, identified by President
Raúl Castro, Barnet asserted, "We writers and
artists assume, as one of our reasons for being, the
duty to contribute to the development and promotion
of ethical and civic values. We aspire to our people
being not only well-trained, but educated."
"Our efforts to make visible and
promote these values socially have been
considerable, although as yet insufficient. We will
not stray from the course Fidel set, when in the
most severe moments of the Special Period, he said,
"Our culture is that which must be saved first," the
maxim guiding this Congress, Barnet added.
"UNEAC is the Moncada of culture. We
assault the barracks of the sordid, of foolishness,
of mediocrity, of excruciating cultural colonization.
We must be consistent in this… We have been united
in the essential, that is to say, in our allegiance
to the most legitimate values of our culture and to
the reaffirmation of the spiritual identity of our
"The Union of Cuban Writers and
Artists must adhere to the ideals of José Martí in
the protection of the purest expressions of our
culture," Barnet concluded.
After the presentation of the
Central Report, delegates met to consider candidates
to the National Council and the executive bodies of