The Declaration of the ICAIC Presidency
In the interest of freedom of expression, let’s let the Revolution’s own officials tell us why 20 Cuban filmmakers were forcefully ejected from the ICAIC’s Cultural Center.
Let’s be fair. Those of us who accuse Cuba’s cultural institutions of censorship should not be constantly giving our opinion. That is another form of censorship: in this case, censorship of the authorities.
- Is it worth-while to focus on the last images and letters coming from the inside of the last living utopia on Earth? Is Cuba by now a contemporary country or just another old-fashioned delusion in the middle of Nowhere-America? A Cold-War Northtalgia maybe? Can we expect a young Rewwwolution.cu within that Ancien Régime still known as The Revolution? I would like to provoke more questions than answers.
- Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo was born in Havana City and still resides and resists there, working as a free-lance writer, photographer and blogger. He is the author of Boring Home (2009) and is the editor of the independent opinion and literary e-zine Voces.
It is time, then, to allow the Revolution’s own officials to enjoy their quota of freedom of speech. It is time for us critical Cuban creatives to bite our tongues for a while, and to become mere spokespeople for what — now that we are almost in 2016 — the Cuban state has to tell the world about cultural creation.
It is time, then, to pause and listen to the allegations made by our civil servants, a group that is always so poorly represented in the international mass media. We must give our full attention to these kinds of official announcements that are the only ones that the Cuban people hear each day, living in a country without Internet or private television stations.
The matter at hand is that of the Cuban Institute of Cinematographic Art and Industry (ICAIC). At the beginning of this month, the Presidency of this emblematic — and also monopolistic — institution published a note that the columnist will use as a column in itself. It would make no sense to follow the usual process of giving it a critical appraisal, in order to judge it under the magnifying glass of outraged readers across half the planet. Not this time.
On the contrary, it will have more significance reproduced in full, with the columnist taking a vow of almost complete silence. Let us be humble before similar lessons from history. For one day — or for a lifetime — let the representatives of the regime be the ones to communicate directly with the leftist heart that every reader hides inside (yours included, of course).
It is matter of basic justice. Because, in this case, the director of the ICAIC, Roberto Smith, is a Cuban citizen who also has the right to have his voice heard. In fact, it is more important for the world to hear his voice than my voice or the voices of my colleagues who have been censored by him.
Beyond all the movies and scenes and names that he has censored; beyond the 20 Cuban filmmakers, who attempted to show solidarity against the censorship of Juan Carlos Cremata on November 28 (at the ICAIC’s “Fresa y Chocolate” Cultural Center); and beyond the quasi-military atmosphere that they encountered there, with some of the participants in the debate being forcefully ejected; beyond all that, the most important thing for those who know about Cuban culture is now to listen, with no filters or commentary, to how — now that we are almost in 2016 — our colleague Roberto Smith expresses himself.
Here is the entire note, intimate and intimidating. Or, if you will permit me one final digression, here is the obituary:
The current agenda of debates of the Cuban Institute of Cinematographic Art and Industry (ICAIC) and our most prominent filmmakers has been designed out of the concerns that we share about Cuban cinema, the institution and the artists, including the legal foundations that encourage their development. The standpoint that we have defended always has been, and always will be, revolutionary. There can be no place in our forums for enemies of the Revolution. We work, together with other State bodies and institutions, to find solutions to problems relating to audiovisual creation, from an anticolonial, anti-imperialist and socialist perspective.
On Saturday November 28, we refused to allow several mercenaries to participate in a meeting of filmmakers with their institution at the ICAIC’s “Fresa y Chocolate” Cultural Center. None of the organizers had invited these people to attend, and their very presence constituted a provocation and a premeditated act to use this kind of space as a platform for proselytism and legitimization.
Faced with any attempt to distort the outcomes of the joint endeavors of the filmmakers and the ICAIC, we feel we have a moral obligation to ratify our commitment to “la Patria”, to Cuban culture and to the Revolution, without which the ICAIC itself and its educational and cultural work of emancipation—of which our people are proud—could never have existed.
Remaining faithful to the principles laid out in Castro’s “Words for the Intellectuals” speech, the ICAIC will reject all manner of provocation, will maintain frank, committed and responsible lines of communication with the avant-garde of our artists, and will continue to act in a fashion consistent with the cultural policy of the Revolution.
Presidency of the Cuban Institute of Cinematographic Art and Industry, December 3, 2015
Roma locuta, causa finita.