Artists meet with authorities in Cuba after sit-in in Havana

The Ministry of Culture of Cuba (Mincult) met with the leaders of the more than 200 young people who staged an unusual protest where artists and intellectuals held a sit-in of more than 15 hours, all this in front of the institution of the government of Miguel Díaz -Canel in search of dialogue on « freedom of expression and creation » on the island.

It was the minister of the area, Alpidio Alonso, who had the meeting with the leaders of the movement, becoming an exchange established in one of the agreements that emerged from the demonstration in the Mincult between noon on November 27 and the early morning of November 28, in in the midst of an environment of « soft coup against the government financed by the United States, » according to the island authorities.

« In my opinion, it was a useful and critical encounter; I hope it is the first of several. Not all the necessary ones were present; I hope future sessions will be more inclusive, in order to draw a more plural and heterogeneous intellectual landscape ”, said the literary editor Maikel José Rodríguez.

The state television newscast reported last night that the seven-hour exchange with the minister and other directors of the cultural sector 50 people attended, although only 10 of them participated in the unprecedented sit-in before the Mincult.

“The debate (held yesterday) touched on issues of great concern to artists: censorship, police violence, the role of the Cuban press in covering the events and also of foreign media financed by North American offices. They also talked about social networks as spaces that falsify the facts and they become spaces of aggression that do not promote dialogue ”, wrote the writer José Ernesto Nováez.

For his part, Alpidio Alonso rejected on Friday to include opponents of the government in the dialogue who also participated in the demonstration before the Mincult for receiving, according to him, « logistical support from the United States. »

« This December 3, at 1:39 pm, an insolent email arrived at the ministry, where the group that has established itself in the voice of all, intends to impose, unilaterally, who, with whom and for what they will agree to dialogue » with the minister, said the Mincult on Friday in a press release.

In the mail, the anti-government sector proposed the « unshakable participation » of various interlocutors, some of them without having been consulted, and ruled out others.

Discussion among protesters

The exclusion of the opposition from the dialogue immediately provoked reactions of all kinds among the young people who participated in the sit-in, a part of them apparently with requests other than a confrontation with the authorities.

“I refuse that my name appears in any statement of the group of 30 (who negotiated the meeting with the minister on November 27-28) without my authorization. My firm position is the following: my agenda is not those of the MSI (opposition Movement San Isidro). I am in favor of the dialogue that was agreed ”, declared the playwright Yunior García Olivera.

After the meeting this Saturday, in which the writer Abel Prieto, former head of culture, also participated, Minister Alonso said he felt « satisfied with the transparency that prevailed, despite the discrepancies », and proposed that the exchange « serve as a basis to a broader dialogue ”.

“The counterrevolution slipped into the fabric of culture (…) We mixed one thing with the other and in a really perverse situation. We must sit and think what the consequences would be. It is a time of danger for this country, of great danger. The things that separate us we must put aside. Have to always have an intelligent and human answer, and rejection of annexationism, ”proclaimed Abel Prieto.

The government assures that until Donald Trump hands over the presidency to Joe Biden in January, Cuba will be in the crosshairs of a “soft blow”, similar to the one that unleashed the so-called “Arab spring”.


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