The Pablo Milanés Foundation / Wendy Iriepa and Ignacio Estrada

I want to refer to a history that seems to have been forgotten in the ferocious opinions around Pablo Milanés performing a concert on August 27th at the American Airlines Arena in Miami.

On June 25, 1993, at the National Hotel in the presence of government leaders and the Communist Party, singer-songwriter Pablo Milanés and then Minister of Culture, Armando Hart Dávalos, announced announced the creation of the Pablo Milanés Foundation.

Thus was created in Cuba the first independent, nonprofit, non-ideological cultural institution. It seemed to be the beginning of the end of state control over culture.

Until that time, institutions such as the Casa de las Americas, the National Union of Writers and Artists (UNEAC), the Nicolas Guillen and Felix Varela foundations, were all supported by the State. Pablo Milanés Foundation was absolutely independent, culturally autonomous, capable of self-financing and investing in projects, without asking anyone’s permission.

To create his Foundation, Pablo Milanés had to overcome bureaucratic obstacles to obtaining permits from the ministries of Culture and Justice. But the greatest effort was convincing the government to forego the juicy inflow of dollars that would no longer go into its coffers. Pablo Milanés was earning more than six digit figures from his annual world tours, record sales and royalties.

The freedoms and the free initiatives deployed at full speed within the Pablo Milanes Foundation, as expected, terrorized the Cuban leaders.

Faced with that  free electron, Mr. Armando Hart, under orders from Fidel Castro, he took it upon himself to make false accusations, and engaged in childish arguments such as the alleged diversion of the purposes that led to the foundation. These served, in 1996, as inconsistent pretexts to argue for the end of a highly altruistic project, which at the time of its dissolution displayed a broad cultural project beyond what is strictly musical.

At the time when Hart, by orders of his bosses, gave the coup de grace to the Foundation, its sponsors with Pablo Milanés at the helm, were plunged wholeheartedly into the development of Cuban culture, but as independents. So it could not be tolerated and it was liquidated.

Taken from: Osmar Laffita Primavera Digital [Digital Spring]

February 27 2012