Changes in Cuba from Culture and Media

Vincent Morin Aguado

Yvon Grenier

HAVANA TIMES — The final session of the XXIV Conference of the Association for the Study of the Cuban Economy was devoted to the mass media, following three days of fruitful discussions at the conference room of the Hilton Miami Downtown.

Yvon Grenier, a professor at St. Francis Xavier University, spoke on “Parameters, participation and economic incentives in the cultural field,” giving us an analysis of the creative world in Cuba, marked by a growing questioning by Cuban artists of the social environment in which their creative activity unfolds.

The debate focused on the new forms of censorship being applied in the country, characterized by avoiding outright bans, seeking to annul through other means the works that could impact on the population. To accomplish this, refined methods are used including minimizing distribution of art or literature critical of government policy.

Examples were cited of writers and artists who remain unknown to most of the population because the state controls the marketing networks of art and literature. In some cases the artist/author is allowed the escape valve to publicize their work outside of Cuba, while remaining virtually unknown on the island. Thus the creator can receive monetary income, but does not fulfill their purpose to impact the social fabric with their works.

Sara Romano, of the University of Turin, presented interesting aspects derived from a survey conducted in collaboration with the University of Havana about the link between job success and the political status of workers, especially membership of the Communist Party of Cuba.

The issue selected by this young Italian student turned controversial as the validity of the results were questioned in a society where the wage pyramid is inverted, whereby being considered occupationally well positioned is not exactly a high corporate position nor possessing university degrees. A majority of Cubans prefer to work directly connected with the possibility of obtaining hard currency even if they are low-level jobs.

This was also my day to present my paper, a reflection on how the ongoing reforms process in Cuba are presented in the Party/State media; a study made ??from reading some 1,200 newspaper articles, mainly from Granma, the official organ of Communist Party, along with reports in the provincial press of the country.

The findings provided standards on the work of the government media, including the use of excess wording, a lack of direct questioning, triumphalism and forgetfulness.

A beautiful metaphor developed decades ago by the great Italian writer Guisepe Tomassi Lampedusa stayed in the memories of those present: “When you want nothing to change, it must appear like you are changing everything.”

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One thought on “Changes in Cuba from Culture and Media

  • Any discussion of the mass media in Cuba might run as much as five minutes.

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