My title page contents

Friday, April 30, 2021

Open letter to those who believe Black Lives Matter

Do Black Lives Matter in Cuba? Luis Manuel Otero Alcantara on sixth day of hunger and thirst strike protesting harassment, destruction of artwork, and home invasions by police is about to die if you do not help.

Dear Friend of the Cuban government,

This is addressed to you, who travel to Cuba on official tours, received by officials, and are sympathetic to the existing system. You have influence, leverage with those in power who desire your continued friendship.

Revolutionary National Police in Cuba are killing black men, and they are about to claim another life through their constant harassment, home invasions, and destruction and theft of art work. These patterns of constant and escalating repression have led Luis Manuel Otero Alcantara to initiate on April 25, 2021 a hunger and thirst strike that is now on its sixth day, and it is feared that he will not last much longer. Please reach out to Cuban officials and explain to them why continuing down this path that will lead to his untimely death, will harm regime interests internationally.

Others have died on hunger strike in Cuba, in recent years, two of them black men: Orlando Zapata Tamayo in 2010 and Yosvany Arostegui Armenteros in 2020. Unarmed black men shot in the back by Revolutionary National Police, a recent high profile case is that Hansel E. Hernández.

Monday, April 26, 2021

Heberto Padilla Stalinist self-criticism 50 years ago and Improper Conduct

"Cuban poets no longer dream (not even at night)."  - Heberto Padilla

Heberto Padilla

Heberto Padilla, a Cuban poet, who like many had been an enthusiastic supporter of Fidel Castro ousting Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista, became disillusioned when the Castro regime's dictatorial nature became clear, and reflected it in his writings.

One: be an optimist.
Two: be discreet, correct, obedient.
(Do well at sports - all of them.)
And, most of all, move
like all the other members:
one step forward, and one (or two) steps back:
but never stop cheering.

In 1968, however, Cuban judges in the national poetry contest awarded their "Julian del Casal" poetry prize to Padilla's collection, Fuera del Juego (Out of the Game), which contained critical lines such as:

"The poet! Kick him out!
He has no business here.
He doesn't play the game.
He never gets excited
Or speaks out clearly.
He never even sees the miracles ..."

The book was published but an addendum was added that criticized the work as counterrevolutionary, and Heberto Padilla was placed under house arrest. On March 20, 1971 he was arrested together with his wife,Belkiz Cuza Malé, after armed state security agents burst into their home. She was released a short time later. He was interrogated for over a month, then released, and on April 27, 1971 forced to confess before the National Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba (Unión Nacional de Escritores y Artistas de Cuba, UNEAC).  
The New York Times on May 26, 1971 described what had gone on and printed an excerpt of the confession in an editorial. Padilla's wife Belkis has also written about their arrest in March 1971 and the knock on the door, and the search of their home by the secret police.

Half a century later on Tuesday, April 27, 2021, a choral reading of Heberto Padilla’s confession will be streamed via social media over 24 hours.

Twenty Cuban intellectuals from the island and the diaspora, directed by Cuban American artist Coco Fusco, are participating in the project organized by the San Isidro International Movement and 27N

Heberto Padilla would suffer ostracism, and harassment until 1979 when he went into exile, and continued his criticism of the Castro regime, and in 1984 appeared in the film "Improper Conduct" where his case was highlighted, and he discussed Raul's Castro visit to Bulgaria and saw that the streets were very clean, without anti-social elements, especially the homosexuals, and was told by the Bulgarian communists that they had been placed in camps. Raul Castro returned to Cuba and instituted the practice with his brother, Fidel's approval in the 1960s. Below is a clip, but FCF members will be viewing the full film online tonight at 8:00pm EST here.