14ymedio, Havana, August 5, 2020 — The Camagüeyan writer, Pedro Armando Junco, has been expelled from the Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba (UNEAC) for “acting in stark contradiction to the principles, statutes and rules” of the organization, according to what the author himself posted on his Facebook page.
“As all my followers can imagine, this has been in response to my daring to write a public letter, through Facebook, to President Díaz-Canel,” says the writer, who admits he was hardly surprised by the violation of the constitutional article that guarantees freedom of thought and expression.
Junco published his missive to the President on July 19, in which he rejected government measures like the opening of shops for food and cleaning products in hard currency, and, especially, qualifying anyone who questions this and other decisions as an “enemy”.
“When they tried to get me to apologize at the end of July, like Herberto Padilla almost 70 years ago*, I expected this,” he adds. Junco was held for almost a month and pressured to retract his criticisms of Castroism and recognize his alleged “counterrevolutionary” attitude.
Junco, who claims his letter was respectful and well-presented, thinks the Government was upset by the “positive reception” that thousands of people gave his words, sharing the post or marking “Like” on the social network. “This letter captures the feeling of most of the Cuban people: NO to the segregation of our money in the face of foreign currencies, and economic freedom for all those who produce food,” he continues.
The writer says that there are many who supported the text in the shadows, but didn’t say so openly for fear of reprisals. “And I understand them. They’re afraid! They don’t want to put their feet in hot water and risk their salaries, which barely allow them to eat, or the social perks that some enjoy. They are ignorant of that aphorism of Alejandro Jodorowsky: ’Your fear ends when your mind realizes that it’s the one creating this fear’,” he adds.
Pedro Armando Junco, 72, has had a long trajectory in Cuban letters since publishing his first work in 1984. He’s won awards on numerous occasions in Cuba, even winning the David National Prize, which he received from the association that now expels him, for his book, La furia de los vientos (The Fury of the Winds), one of the most important in recent literature and the name of his blog.
On May 16, 2015, his son, the rock musician Pedro “Mandy” Junco, was murdered in Camagüey, and the writer led a campaign for increasing the penalty for homicide on the Island. Junco has collaborated several times with 14ymedio, among them telling the story of the sad death of the young man, who was 28 years old.
*Translator’s note: Herberto Padilla was a Cuban poet imprisoned in 1971 after publication of Fuera de Juego (Out of the Game), where his ideas were considered “counterrevolutionary”. He was released 37 days later, after a self-criticism session in a UNEAC meeting, and he urged other writers to follow the principles of the Revolution. He was not allowed to leave Cuba until 1980.
Translated by Regina Anavy
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