Dear Friends and Comrades:
Suddenly, more than thirty years after his dismissal, Luis Pavón, ex-president of the National Council of Culture during the euphemistically called “Five Grey Years,” reappeared in the public sphere on nothing more nor less than an entire programme on National Television dedicated to “his cultural impact on Cuban culture.”
So, was what we saw and heard yesterday Luis Pavón’s impact on Cuban culture?
Or is it someone else who irreversibly damaged the lives of the great and less great creators of Cuban culture, “defined as unacceptable” in one way or another? Who blocked the creation of many artistic performances and the dissemination of many works of literature and art in Cuba and abroad? Who forever deprived us of innumerable works because of the almost inevitable forced self-censorship that followed the abundantly fertile ’60s? Who filled an entire period with a dismal literary and artistic production now justifiably forgotten by those who championed it and bestowed awards upon it in days gone by? Who flooded us with the worst of the contemporary culture of the countries of Eastern Europe, not letting us know about the most creative and profound of them? Who in the short or long term built up the resentment and even caused the emigration of many of these creators who were not revolutionaries though they weren’t counterrevolutionaries, whose apprehension Fidel had tried to assuage in “Words to the Intellectuals”? [A book published in 1972 - Ed.] Who created and inculcated styles and neo-Zhadov cultural doctrines that took decades to eradicate, as they had come to be “normal.” [The Andrei Zhdanov cultural doctrine, developed in Soviet Russia in 1946, required all artists to conform to the Communist Party line in their work - Ed.] Perhaps we are really a country with such a short memory that we no longer remember the painful state to which our national cultural institutions were reduced by the efforts of the National Council of Culture, which was captured by Cuban humour at the time in a trio of sendups: “If you don’t listen to the Council, you won’t live to be old,” “There is no strength in numbers,” and “A wooden knife in the House of the Americas?”
It is true that Pavon was not always the main driver, but neither was he simply obeying orders. Because to this day an important mystery has not been explained or clarified: How many wrong decisions were taken “higher up” on the basis of information, interpretations and assessments of works, creators and events provided by Pavón and his associates of that time, on the basis of their diagnoses and predictions of supposedly serious threats and dangers originating from the cultural environment? Continue reading