EFE (via 14ymedio), Havana, 23 August 2016 – Cuban President Raul Castro warned in a message to the island’s intellectuals and artists that the country’s culture is threatened by “subversive projects” and a “global wave of colonization,” although he is confident that they can confront the challenge, according to an article in the official media published this Tuesday.
The letter, read last night during the celebration of 55 years of the official Cuban Writers and Artists Union (UNEAC), congratulates an institution “that was born in a decisive stage of the Cuban Revolution” and has been “at the service of culture, considered by Fidel as ‘the nation’s shield and sword’.”
“Today we are doubly threatened in the field of culture: by subversive projects that aim to divide us and by the global wave of colonization. UNEAC will continue to face these complex challenges with with courage, revolutionary commitment and intelligence,” says the statement, read by the president of the organization, Miguel Barnet.
Castro’s statement made reference to the 1961 Words To The Intellectuals of his brother, Cuban leader Fidel Castro, among other events that preceded the creation of UNEAC, and mentioned its first president, the “great” Nicolas Guillen, Cuba’s national poet.
“On getting to this day my congratulations go to the founders and the generations that have given continuity to the work begun in August 1961,” concludes the message, which appears in newspapers above the signature of Raul Castro.
In recent months, after the formal restoration of relations with the United States with the reopening of the embassies in both countries in July 2015, Cuba has become a fashionable destination among artists and intellectuals of all kinds, who have seen something of a thaw in the culture.
Havana has served as the backdrop for the filming of TV shows and movies such as House of Lies and the most recent episodes of the cinematic sagas Fast and Furious and Transformers, while celebrities such as Katy Perry, Rihanna and Madonna have walked its streets.
In a display never before seen in the country, The Rolling Stones gave a free concert in March in Havana, an unthinkable event in previous decades.
A month later, important figures from the United States in all fields of art and intellectuality formed a delegation of over 50 members and guests of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities, which arrived in Havana with the support of the US President to strengthen cultural ties.
In May, couturier Karl Lagerfeld and Chanel staged a milestone in the history of the island by bringing together celebrities and supermodels in an unprecedented parade of the prestigious French fashion house’s haute couture, which disembarked for the first time in Latin America with its Cruise Collection.
However, last July Cuba’s Council of State, at the proposal of President Raul Castro, ousted Minister of Culture Julian Gonzalez, who was provisionally replaced by Abel Prieto, who had previously held that responsibility for 15 years until 2012.
The dismissal was announced in a terse official note published in the official media, in which, as is common in Cuba, the reasons for the ouster were not mentioned.