Cuba's Culture Minister Prieto ousted
By Juan O. Tamayo
Cuba's longtime culture minister, Abel Prieto, appeared to have been the
biggest loser in the Communist Party Congress that wound up Tuesday,
being dropped from the party's two top ruling bodies.
Prieto, a novelist known for his relatively open views and long mullet
haircut, was dropped from the party's 15-member ruling Political Bureau,
as well as its more decorative Central Committee, with more than 100
Party officials made no specific announcement of Prieto's ouster — his
name was simply not on the lists of new members of the two bodies that
were read Tuesday at the end of the VI Communist Party Congress.
Prieto has served as culture minister since 1997 and previously served
as deputy minister and head of the Cuban National Union of Writers and
Artists (UNEAC) — the party-controlled group that claims to represent
One UNEAC member in Havana said Prieto has been asking for years to be
relieved of the ministry so he could return to writing.
Another said he believes Prieto was ousted for allowing too many union
members to write sometimes-strident criticisms of the economic reforms
that Cuban leader Raúl Castro is pushing.
The reforms seek to move the island away from its Soviet-era command
economy and toward a more open system, but they have been harshly
criticized as too little or too much, too quick or too slow.
The UNEAC member speculated Prieto might be replaced by Miguel Barnet,
71, a well-known novelist who has defended Castro's reforms.