HAVANA TIMES — Cuban Minister of Culture, Abel Prieto, lashed out this week against the policy drawn out by the United States to boost the private sector in Cuba. He considers their efforts to empower civil society nothing more than actions taken with the aim of destroying the revolutionary process on the island.
Speaking before attendees at the Cuban Writers and Artists Association (UNEAC), Prieto questioned the use of the word “empower” by the promoters of Washington’s new strategy.
“What does “empower” mean? Empowering civil society, empowering the private-sector, small business people…,” Prieto said at the meeting’s closing session, which took place in the auditorium at the National Museum of Fine Arts. “That is to say, they’re pulling the rug from out under our feet, you can see it clearly.”
Culture as an antidote
He argued that “this is why culture plays such an important role” in tackling the dangers that surround Cuba with Barack Obama’s policy.
The 65-year-old Prieto, who served as an advisor to leader Raul Castro, was named minister of Culture provisionally last July, after Julian Gonzalez Toledo was removed from this position. In both positions, Prieto has raised his voice against Obama’s proposals, and consumer society’s so-called “pseudo-cultural products”, which have managed to captivate the Cuban public.
Prior to Prieto’s speech, the critic and researcher Desiderio Navarro had critically addressed the empowerment of Cuba’s emerging private sector according to how the US government wants it to be.
“We all know that our economy is interested in developing this private sector, independent workers and to give them some of the work which used to be done, well or poorly, by the State’s public sector. However, at the same time, we know that the US government’s main task, which it has explicitly expressed, is to empower the private sector,” Navarro explained.
Independent workers’ ideology
And he followed up this statement with: “Therefore, our biggest challenge, the biggest question we have to ask ourselves, is how will this sector think, what role will it have, what ideology will it have…?”
The meeting, which was also chaired by the writer Miguel Barnet, UNEAC’s president, encouraged debate about the Conceptualization of the Cuban economic model and the National Economic and Social Development Plan through 2030, both approved at the 7th Cuban Communist party congress.
“The cultural vision in the general Conceptualization of the Cuban model should be made more evident,” said Jose Antonio Choy, president of the National Architecture and Heritage Committee.
At the meeting, it was agreed to boost the promotion of “Cuban music’s more authentic values” and close ranks to mediocrity as a permanent working model along with cultural institutions and the country’s artistic avant-garde.
“This should immediately be translated into timely and concrete actions, which will be followed up by all of us with a shared responsibility,” wrote journalist Pedro de la Hoz, UNEAC’s vice-president.
According to De la Hoz, the creators pronounced that they would revise the ties between institutions and the market as well as the role of companies in great depth.
“The market can’t distort our cultural policy in promoting music or making room for concessions in content and quality,” the journalist claimed.
In the face of the vacuum that still exists in regulations regarding the music used at state-run and independent recreational centers and in public spaces, De la Hoz said that “it’s urgent that these fundamental laws be defined and adopted as soon as possible.”