Cuba: libertarians warn of impending "wave of repression"

Dudes and girls partying at the Festival de Poesía Sin Fin

Libertarians and Independent activists in the cultural sphere in Cuba are bracing themselves for state repression following an attack on an independent arts festival in Havana.

News on rebellious activities on the island is scarce and hard to come by due to Cuban laws restricting the flow of information, forcing a sort of coded self-censorship in order to ensure that correspondences are not blocked. Below, however, is the translation of the following email received from inside the island from contacts of Venezuelan anarchist newspaper El Libertario:

"Friends and comrades, please, spread the word (if it hasn't already reached you!), to ensure that this doesn't stay quiet. In the next few days, something bad will happen in Cuba. They are preparing a wave of repression just like in the old days. At the very first sign of the start of the annual Festival de Poesía Sin Fin [Endless Poetry Festival], the [state's] boot landed on top of us. And, as you know, this is only one of various hits against peace, harmony, dialogue and everyone's future."

The festival of which they speak defines itself as an "underground, dissident poetry festival" which - unprecedentedly in the last 50 years on the island - operates independently of the state and showcases poets, writers and musicians who don't necessarily cooperate with the officialist stranglehold on Cuban "culture". The decision to militate within the "cultural" sphere can be linked to the prohibitions on autonomous political activity under first Fidel and now Raúl Castro, ever since the popular Cuban Revolution of 1959.

An example of this can be found in the events of November 7, 2009, when an apparently spontaneous gathering around the entrance of the Casa de Cultura which earlier correspondence tells us was merely "in order to discuss and enjoy art which questions violence" suddenly became a 200 person strong, independent demonstration against the constant incursions of the Comités Popular para la Defensa de la Revolución (People Commitees for the Defence of the Revolution - an ubiquitous, neighbourhood-based sort of secret police):

"Noone knows who organised this 'performance'" - the correspondence continues. "Apparently, neither official nor alternative [ie oppositional] media sources were used. News spread by word of mouth."

Fidel's consummation as the nation's leader in the early 1960s resulted in the destruction of a strong, historic and fiercely independent workers movement, with hundreds of workers - amongst them a large proportion of anarcho-syndicalists - killed, arrested and exiled. The Movimiento Libertario Cubano en Exilio (Libertarian Cuban Movement in Exile) was promptly formed in Miami, but this is one of the first, tentative signs of steps towards a new libertarian movement on the island itself. The real story behind November 7 remains unclear (due to the aforementioned self-censorship in email correspondence), yet marches - under any context - that happen outside of the umbrellas of various bourgeious groupings are worthy of comment.

However, rough seas must be ahead. The liberal and wholly partial - if well-researched - folk at Human Rights Watch claim that Raúl Castro, contrary to some reports, is just as repressive and unpermissive as his brother, and has actually intensified attacks on certain groups deemed to be "dangerous" (which HRW claims is "defin[ed] any behaviour that contradicts Cuba's socialist [sic] norms"). Moreover, last week, "government supporters" (read: state thugs) attacked a silent march which commemorated the even more liberal and partial Amnesty International's "Human Rights Day".

Any updates will doubtless end up here...

Posted By

Caiman del Barrio
Dec 16 2009 05:12


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Dec 16 2009 08:19

Enjoying these blogs Caiman, keep em coming.

Dec 16 2009 19:19

yeah, great stuff.

Just to let you know when doing blog entries if you click "location" you can tag the part of the map the story is taking place in. I've done it for this article.