President Raúl Castro attends closing of Writers and Artists Congress

President of the Councils of State and Ministers, and First Secretary of the Communist Party of Cuba Central Committee, Raúl Castro Ruz, congratulated the executive committee elected by the Union of Cuban Writers and Artists (UNEAC) 8th Congress, including Miguel Barnet who was re-elected as president of the organization, and, in particular, the delegates participating in the event, which held its closing session the evening of Saturday, April 12, in Havana’s Convention Center.

“I have been following all the opinions, some of which I do not share, but do respect. I am an absolute enemy of unanimity; differences should be expressed in meetings whenever necessary. The problems presented here must be discussed and solutions found; you can not arrive at the next Congress and present the same,” Raúl said during the closing session.

The President received two pieces of artwork by Juan Quintanilla from Miguel Barnet and sculptor José Villa – one for himself and one for the historic leader of the Revolution, Fidel Castro – as expressions of UNEAC members’ respect.

The event’s closing comments were made by Vice President Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, with many national and Party leaders in attendance, including Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla, minister of Foreign Relations; Julián González Toledo, minister of Culture; Abel Prieto, Presidential advisor; Roberto Montesinos, from the Party Central Committee; and families of the Cuban Five.

Díaz-Canel commented, in reference to the implementation of 6th Party  Congress Guidelines, “We are living during a transcendental moment in the country’s history. The updating of our model is being undertaken at the same time as the functioning of the economy, and the daily lives of 11 million Cubans, are assured, in the context of international crisis and an evermore restrictive blockade. We are right now approaching the most difficult tasks – the transformation of our socialist enterprises and monetary-exchange rate unification.”

In his remarks, the Vice President addressed “the new modalities of subversion being attempted by our enemies, whose principal strategy is the implementation of a program based on neoliberal thinking, and the restoration of neocolonial capitalism, targeting the very essence of the Revolution, with an attempt to create an ideological rupture between generations – all of which represents an attack on the values, identity and culture of our nation.”

The recent revelation, he said, of a plan by the United States government to promote subversion in Cuba is a clear expression of these sinister intentions.

“Identifying the forces we can count on to confront these challenges, the President mentioned, first of all, our intellectuals and artists, whose commitment to the nation is unquestionable, as is that of the great mass of our people”.

“The UNEAC Congress debate has taken place, beginning at the local level, in this spirit, reaffirming that culture must be part of efforts being made today to mobilize the productive forces, as well as the moral resources of the country, to achieve a prosperous and sustainable socialism, in which what distinguishes human beings is not their material possessions, but rather the wealth of their knowledge, culture and sensitivity”, he said.

Díaz-Canel emphasized the need to more effectively defend the country’s national identity and promote the authentic values of Cuban culture, to ensure that they are assimilated by younger generations.

He said that we cannot ignore the fact that the principle instruments of domination available to imperialism are cultural and mediatic.

Cuba is subjected to this influence, which is directed toward intellectuals and artists, among others, with the goal of drawing them away from any social concerns or intentions. Imperialism thus hopes to implant banality and a frivolous point of view among artists, drawing them away from political and social commitment, to create chaos and confusion, he said.

Díaz-Canel reiterated that this is why it is so important for the nation to have an artistic vanguard such as UNEAC, which can make a decisive contribution to the cultural battle, confronting the colonizers’ plans and U.S. subversion.

The principal challenge, he said, lies in the battle against pseudo-cultural messages, insisting that “We must better prepare ourselves to confront ideas, to defend our socialism, and its improvement, as the only way to save our culture, one of the principal conquests of the Revolution.”

“This means seeking economic development and growth, but with our souls replete with feeling and spirituality. This is accomplished by saving our culture, which is the same as saving the homeland, the Revolution and socialism.

“The artistic vanguard must defend our truths, Even as new technologies allow people to decide what to consume in terms of culture, we must differentiate public venues from private ones.

“Our cultural policy is one of the Cuban Revolution’s principal conquests, and its implementation is the responsibility of the state and its network of institutions, with the participation of our revolutionary intellectuals.”

The Vice President said that popular tastes must be influenced “not with prohibitions, but by designing coherent policies.”

He described the Revolution’s fundamental strategy as unity based on the convergence possible among various points of view, and called upon the delegates to, “Defend this unity, absolutely necessary to guarantee the continuity of the Revolution. You can rest assured of the Party and the national government’s support.”

“Given the outcomes of this Congress, we can affirm that the genuine vanguard of our writers and artists exists, lives, conscious and committed to its Revolution,” Díaz-Canel concluded.

Prior to the closing of the gathering, journalist Magda Resik presented the new UNEAC executive committee, which included  audiovisual artist Luis Morlote, as first vice president; Arístides Hernández, Digna Guerra and Pedro de la Hoz (vice presidents); Omar Felipe Mauri and Nieves Laferté, as secretaries. Also announced were those elected as members of provincial committees and the presidents of national associations representing different artistic expressions.

Also on the final day of the Congress, delegates received messages from Armando Hart and The Cuban Five.