HAVANA TIMES, March 4 — More and more virtual and real networks are bringing together various voices into dialogue around issues that affect the lives of Cubans on and off the island. Slowly, overcoming mistrust and objective differences in ideology and identity, citizens of the island and its diaspora, as well as friends and supporters, are joining specific causes of social and cultural activism.
On this occasion the initiative led by Ariel Hidalgo (a well-known writer, teacher and leftist who lives in the United States) has managed to gather signatures in opposition to acts of censorship committed by the authorities of the island against autonomous cultural and information projects.
In language that refers directly to the facts — without the ideological bias frequently used by right-wing exiles and Cuban government propagandists — several friends of his have decided to join this initiative.
Immediately below is the letter and the list of signatures collected so far in writing this post:
AGAINST CENSORSHIP IN CUBA
The undersigned denounce the actions of censorship that have been conducted over the last few months against communities, cultural groups and news sources of the Cuban population. Among these are the following cases:
– On November 25, 2011, in San Antonio de los Baños, the first Arteco Cultural Festival: “Ecología y Comunidad ¡Por Amor a la Tierra!” (Art, Ecology and Community, For the Love of the Earth!) was canceled without explanation by order of the city’s director of Culture. The activity had been organized for a month by the “La Rueda” collective (a self-professed socialist-libertarian group) relying on the personal resources of the members of that community, and had been included in the activities plan of the Municipal Department of Culture.
For several weeks, families had fashioned costumes for children to dress up as pirates, Indians, clowns and gypsies; similarly, songs and poems had been memorized for recitation and even residents’ dogs and goats had been decorated.
On the morning of November 26, the day of the festival, two people on a motorcycle pulled down the promotional materials that had been created through such hard work by the local residents. Some artists and art instructors, who participated in this effort, as well as two members of the collective, were intimidated by being called in by the authorities and interrogated, with officials emphasizing the significance of the slogans: “Support your Community! Join the Change!”
– After months of warnings, threats and intimidation against participants, the public and friends of Estado de Sats (an online audiovisual project that refers to itself as “a public space for discussion and debate” ), a meeting was sabotaged that had been scheduled for February 10, 2012 and was dedicated to poetry and jazz.
Poet Hank Lazer and musician Andrew Raffo had both committed to participate in the event as each of them were American residents visiting Cuba as part of the celebration of ten years of collaboration between the universities of Alabama and San Geronimo de La Habana Vieja. Yet, no such event was able to take place.
After canceling his presentation, Lazer admitted that he had been discouraged from attending due to the suggestion that the authorities would “restrict his stay in the country to the activities he had scheduled” .
Hours later, when Estado de Sats State reported the cancelation, he changed his story to a new version: the reason was said to have been an unexpected activity, a dinner to be held that night. A statement written by Estado de Sats organizers recalled that many artists and scholars living in Cuba “have toured and visited many US cities with complete freedom of movement.”
– The email address of Critical Observatory ([email protected]) was blocked in February of this year. Messages sent to the national Infomed server were not received and bounced back to their senders. Likewise, the receipt of e-mail sent to some faculties of the University of Havana by the Critical Observatory has been prevented and several people have complained that they no longer receive information materials and calls by the organization.
Both Estado de Sats (over the last few months) and Critical Observatory (since its letter of December 2009 ) have repeatedly warned about the consequences of such attempts and acts of censorship against activism, information and cultural discussion.
Considering the foregoing incidents, as well as the valuable and diverse types of work of the efforts mentioned — and many others — with each working to develop a more diverse, inclusive and democratic nation and citizenry, we the undersigned strongly condemn these acts of censorship imposed by officials and the government.
Are they afraid of autonomy, self-organization and the citizens’ initiative? We call for an end to intimidation and barriers imposed on peaceful efforts that have been made only to give voice to the diversity of the Cuban population.
Signers as of February 27, 2012:
Ivan Acosta, playwright and filmmaker, New York, USA.
Aguabella Pablo Valdivia, actor and entrepreneur, Costa Rica.
Guillermo Marcelo Almeyra Casares, political scientist, Mexico, Argentina
Dora Amador, journalist, Florida, USA.
Marlene Azor Hernandez, sociologist, Cuba and Mexico.
Elena Blanco Garcia, Venezuelan, living in Wisconsin, USA.
Juan Antonio Blanco, political analyst, Florida, USA.
Rolando Castañeda, economist, Washington DC, USA.
Manuel Castro Rodriguez, university professor, Panama.
Raul E. Colon Rodriguez, editor, journalist and translator, Canada.
Edgar Cordova Jaimes, political scientist, Venezuela.
Armando Chaguaceda, political scientist and historian, Cuba and Mexico.
Haroldo Dilla Alfonso, sociologist, Dominican Republic.
Samuel Farber, emeritus political science professor, New York, USA.
Blanca I. Garcia, social worker, Florida, USA.
Helio J. Gonzalez, telecommunications engineer, Florida, USA.
Vicente R. Gutierrez Santos, economist and political analyst, Spain.
Ariel Hidalgo, teacher, Florida, USA.
Antonio Llaca, surgeon, Venezuela.
Pedro Ramon Lopez, businessperson, Dominican Republic.
Alina Lopez Marin, retired, California, USA.
Rafael Lopez Ramos, visual artist, Florida, USA.
Gerardo Martinez-Solanas, economist and political scientist, Florida, USA.
Nelson Mendez, a college professor, Venezuela.
Martha Minor, Florida, United States.
Oscar Pena, human rights activist, Florida, USA.
Luis Prat, engineer, United States.
Ricardo Puerta, sociologist, Honduras.
Mario Rivadulla, journalist, Dominican Republic.
Mary B. Rivadulla, professor of digital design, Puerto Rico.
Gustavo Rodriguez, journalist and broadcaster, Mexico.
Pablo Rodriguez Carvajal, communicator, Florida, USA.
Roberto Ruiz, Florida, USA.
Carlos Saladrigas, entrepreneur, Florida, USA.
Dora Maria Tellez, a former Sandinista commander, historian and political leader, Nicaragua
Rafael Uzcategui, sociologist, Venezuela.
Eduardo Zayas-Bazan, emeritus professor and writer, Florida, USA.
Israel Hernandez Ceballos, a sociologist and communications expert, Mexico.
(Prepared by the Grupo Concordia. To add your signature, write to Ariel Hidalgo at: [email protected] )