Havana, Nov 29 (efe-epa).- Several hundred people convened by government-backing Cuban youth organizations gathered in a Havana park on Sunday to express their rejection of the thriving artistic community’s movement demanding freedom of expression and creativity.
Under the slogan “Young people for socialist democracy,” the event included live music, speeches by young communists and poetry readings marked by chants by more than 500 participants of all ages, who shouted “Viva Fidel (Castro), “Viva la Revolucion” and “Continuity, continuity.”
Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel made a surprise appearance at the protest, where he was cheered by those present and delivered a speech.
“They’ve set up a media show,” Diaz-Canel claimed, without directly naming the artistic critics or the San Isidro Movement, the opposition organization that lit the fuse of the conflict when several members declared a hunger strike and were forcefully dislodged by Cuban law enforcement authorities from the house where they were protesting last Thursday.
After that action by Cuban authorities, more than 300 artists and intellectuals – including filmmaker Fernando Perez and actor Jorge Perugorria – gathered peacefully on Friday before the Culture Ministry building in an unscheduled demonstration to ask, among other things, for an end to censorship and repression of independent creative voices expressing ideas contrary to the government’s socialist policies.
In his speech before the crowd, the Cuban president attributed the initiatives of the artists to “an unconventional war strategy to try and overthrow the (Cuban) Revolution” orchestrated by “the Trump supporters and the anti-Cuban mafia” in the United States.
The Cuban government’s accusations of the artistic community’s activities contrast with the agreement made among artists who gathered on Friday to meet with Culture Ministry authorities, the two sides agreeing to hold new rounds of discussions to try and resolve their differences.
Some young Cubans who attended the pro-government demonstration in Trillo Park told EFE their opinions about the conflict with the artists.
“We’re open to dialogue, we support freedom of expression and thought, but always within the (scope of the) Revolution and with the socialist character of the Cuban state,” Maria Fernanda, a 21-year-old international relations student who attended the event after receiving the call to do so via the social networks, told EFE.
“One mustn’t confuse freedom of creativity with trying to sully the symbols of the Revolution that has taken so much work to build,” said another participant, young economics professor Juan Carlos Imbert.