Political Prisoners of the Empire  MIAMI 5     



Havana. April 11, 2014

Cuban artists and writers
are confident in the Revolution’s
cultural policy

Amelia Duarte de la Rosa

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 committees.

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 pressing problems."

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 spiritual fabric."

"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 people."

"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 national associations.

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