14ymedio, Madrid, 28 April 2022 — The departure of Armando Franco Senén, former director of the university magazine Alma Mater, continues to generate reactions, and the Communist Party has taken notice. In a message on Twitter, Enrique Villuendas Calleyro, an official of the Ideological Department of the Central Committee and in charge of the press, said that he met with the journalist, “who has a lot to contribute… I heard his concerns about the Alma Mater magazine and I ratified the PCC’s willingness to address them,” he added.
The message has been shared by Ronquillo Bello, president of the Union of Cuban Journalists and a contributor to Juventud Rebelde, who has spared no praise for Franco. “We are saddened, like so many colleagues and followers of Alma Mater, by the decision adopted in relation to Armandito and the publication. From Upec we have supported his projects, such as those of all those who strive in the press system to modernize the language, codes and aesthetics, as well as increasing its authority and scope in times when the mediacentric model is failing and audiences, increasingly fragmented, have to be conquered with unwavering professionalism and ethical heights.”
The journalist has asked that the situation be “overcome,” which has generated controversy among those who demand that it be rectified and that the removal of those who are critical be stopped, a situation that, in the opinion of several users, harms the Revolution.
The authorities will have to work to placate the outrage that has spread among the publication’s readers, including supporters of the regime such as Israel Rojas, who has expressed his admiration for the dismissed director and has even asked that the journalist be sent to be the director, for example, of Bohemia magazine. “Perhaps this is how such a historic and necessary publication is rescued.”
Silvio Rodriguez has gone much further, in what is already his umpteenth pronouncement against the Díaz-Canel government. The troubadour does not stop at the dismissal of Franco, on the contrary, the news serves to unleash an attack on the current power leadership. “What seems worrying to me is that, instead of opening up, the leadership continues to show signs of closure. And it seems very serious to me, at this point,” he accuses.
The artist, who hinted last month that the closure of his blog Segunda Cita was imminent, has continued to add content and this Wednesday the Alma Mater case broke out among its readers, who mostly reject Franco’s “liberation.” Rodríguez is not scandalized, however, that the Union of Young Communists (UJC) has made the decision, interfering with the autonomy of the publication.
The troubadour points out that the magazine has always been subordinate to the youth organization – since 1959, it appears – and this aspect does not concern him, but the fact that “political organizations insist on being so obsolete” does. “It worries me that the Revolution (or what uses its name) ends up being counter-revolutionary and that what confronts it seems or ends up being revolutionary,” he says.
Julio César Guanche, author of the official blog La Cosa, talks with Rodríguez in his space and claims the autonomy of the Federation of University Students (FEU) and Alma Mater of the UJC. The essayist reviews the trajectory of the centennial magazine and the centralizing process of the mass organizations that, according to him, were corrected in the XIII Congress of the Federation of Cuban Workers (CTC), in 1973. However, the separation is not as great as it should be.
“Specifically, the FEU would have ‘organic independence’ while subordinating itself to the PCC – on which the entire Cuban political system depends – and more directly to the UJC,” explains Guanche. In the text, the author considers this contradiction a strict legacy of Soviet Marxism, “which never offered democratic solutions for any political system within what was then called the socialist camp,” and calls for the FEU to be granted “full autonomy” as a tribute to its centenary.
Rodríguez cannot avoid intervening again in light of the comments, which do not cease, to continue charging against the system, in some aspects, since he does not hesitate to point out that the multiparty system does not seem “essential” to him, but instead calls for a diversity of spaces “where anyone can express what they think.”
“The policy regarding the press must improve a lot; this blog, until today, was always unequivocal about that. There are many freedoms that we deserve (in work and commerce) and I believe that they do not reverse the achievements of the Revolution, although they would affect the bureaucratic control and certain unpunished powers that we suffer from,” claims the troubadour. And as if he were biting his tongue, he adds: “And here I leave it.”
Silvio Rodríguez’s interventions in favor of people linked to culture or the press retaliated against by the Government have increased more and more. Almost four years ago, in June 2018, he came out in defense of the Uruguayan journalist Fernando Ravsberg, from whom the government, at that time still led by then President Raúl Castro, withdrew his correspondent credential in Havana.
“It seems that at last the Cazabrujas de Dores (Witch Hunters of Dores) feel strong and unleashed enough; so much so that they seem capable of doing what Fidel and Raúl did not do… If this materializes, if their press credentials are withdrawn in Cuba and push Ravsberg to emigrate with his Cuban family of 30 years, it could mean a turning point in this Revolution that so many of us have loved, defended and built,” he said then.
Since that date, and with the arrival of Díaz-Canel to power, the criticism has risen in tone and the troubadour has criticized recent decisions, such as the excessive sentences for those arrested for the July 11th (11J) protests in general and the case of the musician Abel Lescay in particular, but also historical measures such as the revolutionary offensive. Although the artist has not stopped demanding — and he ends the posts on his blog with this — the end of the blockade, he has also recently said that this cannot be an eternal excuse.
“If in 60 years we have not been able to develop a creativity that overcomes the blockade, we are in a bad way,” he said just three months ago.
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