Socialist civil society can contribute much to Cuba’s culture
- Submitted by: manso
- Editorial Articles
- 07 / 22 / 2011
Pedro de la Hoz. A meeting of representatives from cultural foundations and associations convened by the Nicolás Guillén Foundation, to commemorate its first two decades, demonstrated the undeniable contributions – and above all, the undeveloped potential – of these entities, which are part of Cuba’s socialist civil society.
Emphasizing this last concept is important. As part of tendentious manipulations disseminated by enemies of the Revolution, some communications media have echoed the presumed existence of a civil society which lies outside of the country’s legal margins, and which is counterpoised to popular values and aspirations. In fact, they play into the desperate attempts of the U.S. government and its intelligence services to undermine Cuba’s social fabric from within and turn back the clock.
They are not that visible or publicized; however, those initiatives set in motion above all over the last 25 years, have legitimized their activity based on an autonomous and independent vision running parallel to the process of radical change which has characterized, over the last half of a century, these renovating and foundational times.
They have done so from the point of view of service, facing material limitations and more than a few conflicts which have their origins in regulatory vacuums and omissions, as well as in misunderstandings and minute, circumstantial doubts generated at some point during dialogue with established institutions. Although it must be said that there have been freewheeling decision making and careless moments in the management of one or another group, these have fortunately been resolved.
Within the cultural sector, the contributions of these groups have been notable and significant. Foundations and associations have worked fundamentally in two areas: the preservation and promotion of cultural heritage; and community socio-cultural environment work. In more than a few cases, these two focus areas overlap.
The first line of work is well represented by the Nicolás Guillén, Alejo Carpentier and Fernando Ortiz Foundations, led respectively by Nicolás Hernández Guillén, Dr. Graziella Pogolotti and Miguel Barnet. These efforts require knowledge of how to promote publishing projects and research, as well as how to stimulate the development of authentic cultural thinking, with the legacy of these three great intellectual figures as a starting point. The second area of focus includes at least two exemplary entities: the Community Initiatives Reference and Exchange Center (CIERIC), led by Rigoberto Fabelo, and the Antonio Núñez Jiménez Nature and Humanity Foundation headed by Liliana Núñez Véliz, daughter of the eminent geographer. The former has been able to strengthen, to some degree, community micro-projects and the latter provides concrete leadership in very interesting efforts related to environmental culture.
Also worthy of recognition are contributions made by the Caguayo Foundation, headed by Alberto Lescay, in the development of monumental and environmental art; the Ludwig de Cuba Foundation, led by Helmo Hernández, promoting a new generation of artists, and the Martin Luther King Jr. Center in popular education and the cultivation of socially conscious spirituality. Not to be overlooked is the effectiveness of the autonomous work undertaken by the Pablo de la Torriente Brau Center, directed by Víctor Casaus, although it does function within a state structure.
These are not the only active cultural associations. The accomplishments of professional groups can also be highlighted, including those of the Cuban Association of Artisan Artists, led by
Dámaso Crespo, or the Cuban chapters of international organizations of designers, dramatists, Esperantists, authors of children’s literature, musicologists and organizers of folkloric festivals.
What is clear is that these groups have influence and take responsibility in Cuba’s civil society. Within all their various interests, lies the desire, as Nicolás Hernández Guillén said, to contribute to the preservation and expansion of what has been accomplished within the cultural order, and at the same time, to allow the men and women involved to project themselves socially as protagonists through their active participation and as conveyors of the values of the socialist society.