03 February 2007


The Raul Castro propaganda machine is slick, but not that slick.

Frances Robles has an interesting article in Saturday’s Miami Herald. With a great headline:

In Cuba, dissent by invitation only

It tells us a story of some so called Cuban Intellectuals who were invited by the new regime to go to a conference this past Tuesday and “criticize a particularly harsh era of censorship -- out loud and in the open.”

Now the intellectuals are not dissenting over human rights or lack of freedoms or the prohibition of multiparty elections, NO. The intellectuals were complaining about the TV appearances of some hard-line communists, (is there anything else?), who in the seventies cracked down on artists, writers and other Marxists intellectuals.

Now, these communist fossils were only following the orders of Fidel at the time, but this is conveniently forgotten.


The flare-up was triggered when Cuban TV ran a laudatory profile last month of
Luis Pavón Tamayo, the former chairman of the National Culture Council. Pavón's
five-year reign was dubbed the ''The Gray Quinquennium'' -- The Five Gray Years- for its record of arrests and censorship.

A magazine editor convoked a conference led by writer Ambrosio Fornet and attended by Culture Minister Abel Prieto to debate the topic. But tickets were
given only to some 450 people.

Reports from Cuba say young writers who were not invited protested outside.

OK so the government who owns the TV station puts some guy on TV. It hurts the sensibility of some. Then the government convenes a conference where, those within the same government complain about the government programming. HMM? yup that’s dissent alright. Dog and Pony show is more like it. BUT nobody’s buying it anymore.

The good thing is that those “protesting” outside didn’t get harassed. Hmm?

Anyway, Robles got the opinion of some “real” dissidents:

''I don't know how important it can be, but what's true is that I have never seen anything like that in Cuba,'' Cuban writer Ena Lucía Portela told The Miami Herald in an e-mail. ``It was rudimentary, passionate, incoherent, but it was the closest thing to freedom of expression I have seen in this country in my entire life.''

''The act established a turning point that we hope will be irreversible,'' writer Reynaldo González, winner of the 2003 National Literary Prize, said in an e-mail to The Miami Herald. ``And it has created an echo that will be difficult to stifle, even if someone tries to do so.''

Portela, 34, wasn't invited, and viewed the conference as a white-wash. ''A half-century of lies is not something that can change overnight,'' she said.

Former Cuban political prisoner Manuel Vásquez Portal agreed,saying it was nothing but a political ploy aimed at identifying dissenters.

''Look, Raúl Castro is a soldier. Soldiers don't debate. They order,'' said Vásquez, a former independent journalist. ``If he wants to debate, he'd free prisoners of conscience and invite them to debate.''

HA! That’s the real change, folks. The press challenging the official party line.

Now, this whole ''The Gray Quinquennium'' is interesting.

It may even reveal a glimpse into the subtle power struggles going on within the ruling Copula in Cuba.

Ramiro Valdes, which is the new information guy and sharing power with Raul in an uncomfortable arrangement, may have put the fellow hardliners on TV to send out a message.

The ensuing brouhaha could be the Raul response to let Valdes know that he’s got the will and the means to fight Valdes

But who knows. The bottom line is that nothing has really changed for the Cuban citizen and probably wont until the Beast is gone.

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