14ymedio, 12 December 2014 – The independent promoter Matraka Productions expressed its regret in a statement about the damage the Associated Press has done to the unofficial cultural sector by linking the receipt of grants from the US to allegedly subversive actions. This Thursday the American agency published the results of an investigation, which claims that the Agency for International Development (USAID) promoted rap and hip-hop groups critical of the government.
USAID has played down the information from the AP and recalls that it is known that the agency “supports programs of civil society in Cuba and other restrictive environments” as part of the actions of the US government to promote democracy, a spokesperson told the EFE press agency. “Any claim that our work is secret or covert it is simply false,” he said.
The official press has published in its entirety the extensive AP investigation, as well as the documents in support of it, as they have also done with reports from the same American press agency on other USAID alleged covert operations such as ZunZuneo.
“In the ongoing investigation by AP, in their righteous grandeur, they have determined to exempt from responsibility those that catalog as “receivers unaware” of the origin of the funds. And they identify as manipulators, scammers and illegals in offshore activities the private contractors and companies who were clearly employed as implementers and in the US-Cuba dispute,” says Matraka in a communication sent to 14ymedio.
“We fear that these revelations are going to contribute to a radicalization in the authorities’ view of the independent cultural sector of our society, and the perspective that there might be an authentic civil society, capable of generating its own initiatives and discerning its interests. With these kinds of scandal, national public option gets the idea that any subsidy is synonymous with subversion, and that any grantee may itself be a subversive element.”
Matraka Productions spoke of the difficulties that face independent artists on the island, who are subject to censorship. “The reasons for such a wide range of prohibitions are always put forward on behalf of a universal revolutionary judgment: the American enemy!!”
For this reason, the promoter reemphasized his “Cubanness” and the right of artists to seek sources of alternative funding for the survival of their work. “We do not, nor can we, feel guilty before the revelations of a foreign press agency: we do not feel guilt for looking for sources of funding to do the work as we shape it. We don’t feel obliged to seek the indulgence or approval of anyone. We don’t feel guilty for trying ‘to change everything that should be changed*.’”
*Translator’s note: A phrase from Fidel Castro’s speech delivered on 1 May 2000 in Havana’s Plaza of the Revolution.