San Isidro Movement Calls for a National Dialogue Without Excluding the Cuban Authorities

Activists of the San Isidro Movement at the organization’s headquarters, in Old Havana, last November. (MSI)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana, 5 March 2021 — The San Isidro Movement (MSI) has launched the Patria y Vida [Homeland and Life] platform to convene a “national dialogue” with all actors in society, including the Government, and build a Cuba that represents “a safe home for all,” and to overcome the serious crisis that the nation is suffering through “peaceful and civic solutions.”

“The measures of the so-called Tarea Ordenamiento* [Ordering Task] have only exacerbated economic and social inequalities,” asserts the MSI in a statement published this Friday. “The role of the Government has been reduced to managing shortages, hunger, repression and violence in the midst of the covid-19 pandemic,” the text continues. “The Government continues to be incapable of guaranteeing respect for the human rights of its citizens.”

The artist Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, the most visible face of the movement, tells 14ymedio that the platform arises because of the “disrespect” that there is “on the part of the regime.” Despite this, he declares that “there cannot be a dialogue in Cuba without the systemic part, without the regime part.” Now, he asserts, “it has to be with character,” hence the motto Patria y Vida, which coincides with the viral song of that name and in whose video clip Alcántara himself appears wrapped in a Cuban flag: “Right now we are dead and we want life. It is very encouraging, we want life in the future of Cuba, a living Cuba, with its mistakes but alive.”

Alcántara referred to the reaction of the Minister of Culture, Alpidio Alonso, on January 27, when he attacked a group of artists who were demonstrating in front of the official building, “ignoring the voice of the citizenry.” However, he recalls that the attempts to approach the cultural authorities are not new: “Since Decree 349 and #00Biennial [in July 2018] we wanted a face-to-face a dialogue with the minister,” he says. “The authorities always managed to stir things up, but today we believe that it is no longer possible to speak from the cultural space, it is necessary to speak at the level of citizens, of civic responsibility.” And he asserts: “I cannot make my art if there is a dictatorship in Cuba.”

The MSI statement defends plurality in order to integrate the majority of citizens and overcome the crisis affecting the country. “The only thing we want to abound in Cuba is prosperity, progress and respect for our dignity as free human beings. We do not bet on conflict, we proclaim peace,” the text indicates.

The dialogue would have several phases, the first, which should last 21 days, begins this Friday. At this stage, the proposals of those who wish to participate will be collected through the email or in the “Patria y Vida” tab of the San Isidro Movement website.

Alcántara pointed out that, based on initiatives prior to this one, the new thing that the MSI can do is to propose dialogue from the point of view of art “with a lot of inclusion and respect for the work of many people.”

*Translator’s note: Tarea ordenamiento = the [so-called] ‘Ordering Task’ which is a collection of measures that includes eliminating the Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC), leaving the Cuban peso as the only national currency, raising prices, raising salaries (but not as much as prices), opening stores that take payment only in hard currency which must be in the form of specially issued pre-paid debit cards, and others. 


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