A Firing in the Holguin Culture Sector / Luis Felipe Rojas

As expected by many for some time, the boss of the National Union of Cuban Artists and Writers (UNEAC), came down from his presidential throne in Holguin.

Miguel Barnet himself, accompanied by an entourage of the ten heads of the various sections, appeared in this city to inform members about the irregularities detected by a committee with regards to the management of funds by its president, the writer and painter Jorge Hidalgo Pimental.

What is laughable on this occasion is that the investigation of irregularities was sparked by anonymous complaints from the artists and workers at the cultural center where Hidlago Pimental is accused of abuse of his position and the possible enrichment of his executive secretary, by the name of Zara.

Diario de Cuba has already published an article about it but I’ll share some details with you here.

Of the 45 works of art that UNEAC bought in the last three years from local fine artists, 15 were the works of Mr. Jorge Hidalgo. Among the other niceties appear payments under Resolution 35 (which offered payments of 135 and 200 pesos for public lectures and conferences among others) made to Mr. Hidlago. One of these was a talk he gave at the headquarters of the Cuba Workers Center in the mountainous city of Mayari and for which he was paid 600 Cuban pesos.

According the report read before a couple of hundred members, the amount that this director paid himself totaled more than two hundred thousand pesos in just three years. Can the committee still not believe that this constitutes a crime? We see in one program, “artistas al fin”, that this gentleman had the right to receive the remuneration that the Culture Ministry intended for this purpose, and even with that he is not before the court?

What happens is that the Cuba penal code doesn’t address those who slice the necks, rip off the heads and climb with their dirty boots on the shoulders of others. One indication of the stinginess which some artists have called attention to, is that for the poetry recitals and the cultural afternoons at the Holguin UNEAC there was almost never a sip of coffee or a miserable drop of locally manufactured rum.

The same Jorge Hidalgo Pimental, almost a year ago, launched himself into a witch hunt against the center’s vice president, Manuel Garcia Verdecia*, and its cultural promoter, Rafael Vilches Proenza*, both well-known writers with a national reputation. Vilches Proenza, as a prelude to that afternoon of the long knives had written some verses:

Let fear not seize the city
Prisoners worry not, be not amazed
In these times of plague
The larger specimens will die.

*Translator’s note: These two men were stripped of their positions for “mis-use of the internet.”