EFE/14ymedio, Havana, 5 November 2018 — Cuba’s Union of Writers and Artists (Uneac), the pro-government organization that brings together a large part of the island’s intelligentsia, confirmed on Monday that it will not call on its members to debate the project to reform the Constitution and urged them to go to the meetings in their workplaces and neighborhoods.
“Unlike popular consultations carried out in previous years, the political, mass, social, professional and other organizations that belong to our civil society are not participating, as such, in this process,” said a statement from the Uneac Presidency published on Monday on its website.
Prior to this announcement, several Uneac members openly protested against the organization’s refusal to debate the constitutional reform bill. Among those who have explicitly joined the controversy is the doctor of economics Esteban Morales, who, on Tuesday, published a letter sent to the Vice Minister of Culture, Fernando Rojas, in which he refuted a tweet from Rojas who praised the high participation of Uneac members in the meetings on the reform.
“We reject any elitist vision that tries to separate us from our people, as well as irresponsible opinions and manipulations that try to establish matrices of opinion on the alleged violation of human rights in Cuba, especially those of the intellectuals,” replies the text issued by the Uneac.
Uneac explains in the note that, as a workplace, “it developed the consultation with the workers of its headquarters and other guests linked to the institution,” but its members “do so as citizens in their respective workplaces or communities.”
“However, under the assumption that the organization should have called all its members to the debate in its associations, sections and subsidiaries, there are those who have questioned not only the procedure, but the authority and prestige of the Uneac,” the statement laments.
It argues that the organization “has never evaded the debate, as complex as it may be” and later defends, “without guilt complexes or shameful attitudes, the culture committed to a Revolution that fosters spaces of freedom for authentic artistic and literary creation.”
Therefore, despite rejecting the idea of a debate within Uneac, the entity calls on its members to participate as “thousands of artists have done” in the constitutional debate meetings held in neighborhoods and workplaces that began in August and continuing to the middle of this month.
It also repudiates “the unscrupulous way in which media paid by the enemy distorts” the debates and, in another paragraph, the organization maintains that Cuba is threatened in the field of culture “by the subversive projects that try to divide us and by the global colonizing surge.”
More than 7.3 million Cubans (out of a population of about 11 million), according to official sources, have already participated in the debate on the constitutional reform, in which the most discussed topics have been the modification that would legalize homosexual marriage and the limitation of the presidential term, among others.
The document was already approved by the National Assembly of People’s Power — Cuba’s parliament — at the end of July and although it does not incorporate modifications of the political system, it does recognize private property, eliminates allusions to communism, establishes the figure of prime minister and redefines marriage as the union between two people without specify their gender.
Once the stage of popular consultation is concluded on November 15, the group of senior officials and lawyers will study the proposals made in the debates, incorporate those deemed appropriate and send the new draft to Parliament for final approval and subsequent endorsement in a popular referendum in 2019.
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