14ymedio, Luz Escobar, Havana, 7 December 2020 — Actor Reinier Díaz and some other artists who attended last Saturday’s meeting with officials from the Ministry of Culture deny the interpretation that the official press is giving of what happened at the Abelardo Estorino theater. There were forceful interventions in favor of the San Isidro Movement and Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, until officialdom led by Abel Prieto took control of the situation
“The meeting started very well, people with tough ideas, without skimping,” Reinier Díaz tells 14ymedio. “The first to speak was Humberto Díaz, a visual artist who read the demands of 27N [for ’November 27th’] and put the meeting in context.” According to the actor, the Minister of Culture, Alpidio Alonso, admitted that the meeting was taking place as a result of the protests on November 27.
The actor describes as “wonderful” the intervention of the theater director Carlos Celdrán, who criticized the “digital blackout” after the protests and described it as “fascism.” He also denounced the acts of repudiation, something that has been very present in his work.
“From my intervention the newscast only took the presentation, they did not put the heart of my speech, not even when I assumed responsibility for the 30 who participated in the first meeting (with Vice Minister Fernando Rojas) and signed the letter (with the conditions for the next meeting that did not occur),” laments the interviewee. “I spoke as part of the [group of] 30 and said that we are totally opposed to acts of repudiation, police repression, constant violations of the Constitution by the Ministry of the Interior, which acts outside the law, and how many people in the group had agents standing outside their houses to prevent them from leaving,” he notes.
Diaz relates that the most critical interventions occurred, one after another, at the beginning of the meeting. “Lots of people lashed out at the media.” An art critic vindicated the talent of Otero Alcántara and denounced the smear campaign that was being carried out against him “without giving anything conclusive, not even a piece of information, neither proof nor a conviction in hand.”
Another of those present referred to the “evident manipulation of the press media” and the way in which material about the San Isidro Movement and ’27N’ is published. In addition, he rejected police violence in his country.
In another intervention, singer Jesus Barrios said that the security forces doused him with a spray to prevent him from approaching the Ministry of Culture on the day of the protests. Reinier Díaz himself reported that his partner suffered a similar attack and got dermatitis caused by the same product.
What had been going well until then took a turn when another young man, whom Díaz says he does not know, intervened and “began to talk about the Revolution and express himself in a tone that was like a small act of repudiation.” Although the actor repeatedly asked to speak, he wasn’t able to speak again.
“There began the speech of those who assume the critical attitude but from the position of a revolutionary. They spoke of the mercenaries, the annexationists, the flag, the financing and the millions that the United States pays. And even the last speaker ended up offering an ode to the Revolution and said that we are the last socialist bastion in the world and that we cannot lose it.”
In his telling, Díaz also refers to the attitude of Abel Prieto (president of Casa de las Américas), who practically “recognized that the Revolution has to defend itself and that acts of repudiation must be carried out.” The counterrevolution sneaked into the fabric of culture (…) We mixed one thing with the other and in a really perverse situation’, he said at one point.”
For Reinier Díaz, the most clarifying moment of the meeting occurred when Prieto asked if it was necessary to let as many people come out to shout out in the street with the San Isidro Movement, even if there were hundreds.
“Many of us said yes, like Celdrán, Humberto Díaz or me, although others were silent; but Prieto continued with his speech. I believe that they are not prepared for a dialogue. They do not understand that if they want people to trust them they have to tell everything that was said there and not just part of it. The news program blatantly lies, Carlos Celdrán told him several times.”
Díaz was not the only one present to react negatively against what has transpired since the meeting. The director Joseph Ross has expressed his discontent on social networks. “I regret that reports in the media (the official media and the non-official), until now, are so superficial (…). I hope that the press in the next few hours will take a responsible attitude with respect to everything that has been said in these seven hours and and give wide and transparent coverage to all the opinions,” he wrote. The director believes that, although the meeting could have been more plural, there was a clear message that the officials needed to hear.
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