Sunday, February 23, 2014

On the Need for Censorship in Cuba

On the Need for Censorship in Cuba / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo
Posted on February 23, 2014

Within Cuba, contrary to what one might think from outside, one comes to
miss the presence of censorship. And this isn't irony, but a strategy of
liberation. In more than one sense, censorship doesn't exist in a
tangible way in Cuba. It's ubiquitous, but unreachable, unaccounted for.
It leaves no spaces for anyone or anything, but at the same time it
never stops shifting.

Censorship in 21st century post-totalitarian Cuba has learned to morph
itself, mutate and resist being recognized as such. Perhaps because of
this we must know how to name it and above all to give it shape. If
possible, to institutionalize it, take it out of the closet where the
Castro regime without Castros has hidden it, the regime that is already
announced as state capitalism.

In a country hijacked by the despotism of a single party — the
Communists — where since the beginning of the Revolution the press has
been the private property of a military elite, in a context where
there's not much left to do that is logical, and where a first step of
the absurd might well surprise the authorities.

It's about demanding, in this case, public censorship in Cuba,
preferably constitutional, To try to at least make censorship visible,
in the midst of the secrecy that kills our society: to return censorship
to its colonial candor, its republican rigor, its Francoism freshness,
its Stalinist stamina, it's almost more skilled than malicious
McCarthyism, reinstating thus the lost prestige of the national
functionary who collects a salary for professional exercising the
full-time work of censor.

Perhaps it's the lack of censors who currently maintain our civil
society in its sterile state of intellectual indigence.

My experience as a writer censored in Cuba, for example, is already
phantasmagoric. Leaving no fingerprints that would be credible to the
next generation. My children will have more evidence to call me "coward"
or "Castro supporter" than to believe in my three illegal arrests or the
censorship of Boring Home, my book of stories taken out of print by the
Letras Cubanas publisher in 2009.

And out descendent will be right in the imminent future, because none of
my torturers will ever identify me. Like no editor will confront me to
censor a single line nor give me an explanation nor written statement of
why I was expelled from the Cuban literary field.

No one signed the orders to entirely remove my books from the editorial
catalog, and not to allow me to present my books to my colleagues in any
cultural institution. Most likely, in fact, is that no one gave such
orders. In the absolute order there are no longer any orders nor
intentions, just inertia and discipline.

In practice, my denunciations in this respect are already those of an
autistic more than those of an artist. The lack of censorship cut my
career as a Cuban writer in Cuba off at the roots, however, in exile —
this preview of the future — there is no persecuted writer's grant that
fits the ridiculousness of my civic curriculum. Hence, the moral urgency
of restoring the concrete role of censor in the Castro regime, at least
until we dare to overthrow through other non-verbal violence all of the
repressive apparatus.

On the island there is no single Department of Censorship. The official
press — the only legal one — still publishes systematic critiques of the
Revolution, but there is no one to demand from it such intellectual
silence. It's possible that such critiques don't reach their editorial
offices and that there is, in those offices, a rather Adamic environment.

There are not even bureaucratic rules that define what can or can't be
published on each topic — whether political or pornographic — to be able
to give authors the interpretive legal battle. While it is true that in
communism it's not certain that the author exists, long before Barthes
and Foucault. But it is precisely this amorphous condition that allow
maximum impunity, because now every author is, in principle, the censor
of the rest — fractal Fidelism — including self-censorship with which
everyone humiliates himself to avoid being humiliated by the collective.

There is no rational exit from the endless mazes, where repression is
mimicked at times with a political crime with global repercussions, and
others with a local literary prize. Hope is then reduced to absurdity,
pure folly. So, to attract bit by bit freedom of expression to the
territory of totalitarianism, perhaps they could start by introducing
the censorship mechanisms of the democracies themselves. Create
blacklists in Cuban as a measure of restraint against the despotic
power. Publish our first Index Liborium Prohibitorum – banned book list
— in the selection of names and topics for which the Catholic hierarchy
and the Castro regime could huddle together in other shared trenches.

Afterward, the struggle would be much simpler for free Cubans: reduce to
the minimum those civic spaces conceded to censorship — pornography and
politics — and gradually enrich the atmosphere that today makes even
breathing on the island blackmail.

Diario de Cuba, 16 February 2014, Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

Source: On the Need for Censorship in Cuba / Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo |
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