Sunday, December 20, 2015

More Counterrevolutionary (?) Artists Speak up for Their Freedoms (Part I)

More Counterrevolutionary (?) Artists Speak up for Their Freedoms (Part
I) / Angel Santiesteban
Posted on December 20, 2015

Angel Santiesteban "on probation," Havana, 5 December 2015 — On
Saturday, November 28th, there was a meeting at the "Fresa y Chocolate"
center in Havana, of the Assembly of the G-20 as they have been called,
this group of twenty directors of the seventh art — which has the desire
and the priority that the dictatorship accept, finally, a Film Law with
which they can obtain a space of personal freedom for their art. That
is, to be able to conquer creative liberties in favor of independence
from the bureaucracy that has, until now, made them in their entirety
bow down to the government. For all we know, so far, they have not sent
the hit-men to intimidate the "G20".

Although the Government has not yet presented its real face — because of
the scandal that would arise when dealing with internationally
recognized filmmakers — it is possible that they are cooking up
something against this group so difficult to re-educate. So far they
pretend to ignore them, perhaps betting they'll wear themselves out.

The firefighter that the dictatorship has used in the past twenty years
for these acts of insurrection, is the well-known Abel Prieto, who
served once as President of the National Union of Writers and Artists of
Cuba (UNEAC), then as Minister of Culture, and today, as tyrant Raul

But they have worn out this character Prieto to such an extent that a
large percentage of artists do not believe his words anymore and
consider him a kind of Cardinal Richelieu, creator of intrigues and
persecutions against those who do not abide by his directive. It is
clear, there is no other character that could dialogue with this group
of artists, so it would not be surprising that at some point he wears
the "matador suit" and must enter the ring to face the bulls.

Public censorship in the UNEAC Congress

But returning the purpose of this writing, I should describe the events
of the last meeting of the G-20, admitting in advance that the
filmmakers are hostage to the so-called "Revolution" whose makers became
dictatorship figures almost from the beginning. The totalitarian system
maintains a tight grip on artistic production, maintaining an exhaustive
and constant eye on this genre that attracts such a large audience; and
because as the government knows what is at stake if it accepts granting
them "independence", it refuses to untie their hands and minds,
preventing them from doing and undoing what they please with their art,
because they know that soon, it would bring discredit, criticism and
ridicule from art, without their being able to act against them.

The most direct and effective effort so far, has been the attempt to
expose and demand a debate at last congress of the UNEAC, when the
filmmaker Rebeca Chávez proposed opening the subject and the sinister
official Abel Prieto acted as a censor in the most violent and despotic
way imaginable, and radically prevented the director from presenting the
needs filmmakers have today.

This "Cain" in disguise as Abel, feverish for power has become today the
most intransigent cop, and the more fanatical persecutor of those
creators who dare to raise discrepancies with the cultural power or
political power, and all this when he should be the bridge between
artists and the government instead.

The functionaries commit censorship and fraud

The vast majority of those attending the Congress were offended by that
political official's outburst, from a man who was once a colleague,
someone who pondered, defended and represented art in general, but the
more power he has gained in the Nomenklatura the more he has been
betraying the principles of commitment to genuine art. Understand that,
"delegates" chosen in the congresses of the guild, are, mostly, the most
"committed", those who, having passed through the scrutiny, and so they
were unable to rebel against official orders — although they were the
most unfair — and in the most disciplined of fears they remain quiet
before the abuses and injustices of the dictatorship.

Film directors demand the censors show their faces

At the Assembly on the 28th of November, a fraud perpetrated in the
election of the authorities of this congress was exposed, as those who
got the most votes from the artists, were later replaced by the docile
ones, whom they exchanged for the chosen ones in order to take to that
meeting the most submissive and manipulated to lift their arms in favor
of the government and, ultimately, to refuse these spaces of freedom
that urge the artist and the times they live in. Replacing elected ones
by the meek ones has been a common practice for years; and in some post
I stated that I witnessed these frauds, where Abel Prieto pointed his
finger at those who had showed him such pusillanimous attitudes.

The filmmakers, dissatisfied with the government's attitude and its
envoy Abel Prieto, decided to continue gathering to achieve their
aspiration, approval of a long-awaited Film Law. And in that sense
Gustavo Arcos was very specific, talking about movies currently censored
by the Cuban Institute of Cinematographic Art and Industry (ICAIC), also
raising concerns about the state of the national cinema, and calling for
the discussion to be sustained with the counterparty which denies the
Film Law.

He recalled the times that Fidel Castro met with the filmmakers "to save
the cinema" and that — since the ancient dictator is no longer in power
— that interlocutor who, without revealing his face, denied the
necessary Film Law from the shadows should be sought, including Raul
Castro, Diaz Canel and, according to some of those present, Alfonsito
Borges, that grim and mediocre "administrator" of the culture who has
done so much harm, and now serves as ideologist of the Party Central
Committee, and demand that he answer why he considers that the Cuban
films that are censored are also "counterrevolutionary" and to explain
"where, how and why these films are against the Revolution, and have a
dialogue with the decision makers and probably those considered
counterrevolutionary: Alfonsito Borges, and I do not know the others (…).

As for me, I feel that the filmmakers have been too patient, waiting for
the routine, when a plan B with stronger actions should have been in
place, because that is the only way that things in this country will
evidently be resolved, by forcing a discussion. I do not know how much
Raul really knows about all this because I am very surprised that Abel
Prieto himself, who is his adviser, opposed or at least slowed down,
keeping his cards close to his chest, right there at the congress of the
UNEAC, the so-called Film Law."

And in full assembly state security appears imposing their terror (to be

Ángel Santiesteban-Prats

Translated by: Rafael

Source: More Counterrevolutionary (?) Artists Speak up for Their
Freedoms (Part I) / Angel Santiesteban | Translating Cuba -

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