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Cuban cultural policy

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As part of its public policies, the Cuban State guides, encourages and promotes the development of culture in all its manifestations, based on the freedom of artistic creation and the defence of the identity of Cuban culture, the preservation of the cultural heritage and the artistic and historical wealth of the nation, as well as the protection of national monuments.

To this end, it has empowered the Ministry of Culture, an organ of the Central State Administration of the Republic of Cuba, to direct, guide, control and execute, within its sphere of competence, the implementation of the cultural policy of the Cuban State and Government, as well as to guarantee the defence, preservation and enrichment of the cultural heritage of the Cuban nation.

This cultural policy covers the fields of cinema and other audiovisual products, music, books, plastic and visual arts in general, cultural heritage and community work; as part of its sphere of competence it also deals with the training of the relay in each of their manifestations, international projection, collaborative relations with other countries and cultural marketing.

Cuban cultural policy is based on the indissoluble association of the concepts of culture and freedom, which are present in the ideas of the greatest exponents of our revolutionary history:

"To be cultured is the only way to be free." José Martí, 1884
"Without culture, no freedom is possible." Fidel Castro, 2002

The essential features of Cuban cultural policy are understood to be the democratization of access to culture; the defence of national identity from our Caribbean, Latin American and universal dimension; the safeguarding of cultural heritage; the promotion of the development of talent in a climate of creative freedom, commitment and participation; and the promotion of increasingly demanding artistic appreciation skills among the population.

The principles of this cultural policy, although not contained in a single textual corpus, are found in several essential documents in the history of the Revolution, which give an account of its dialectic character (reaffirmation of some principles and evolution of others): Word to the Intellectuals, Socialism and Man in Cuba, I Congress of Education and Culture, the Constitution of the Republic of Cuba, The Theses and Resolutions on Artistic-Literary Culture at the I Party Congress, Documents of the V Congress of UNEAC and more recently the Objectives of the I Party Conference.

The above-mentioned Theses and Resolutions of the Cuban Communist Party point out among the advances of the Revolution in culture:

  • The participation of the masses in cultural activity with the active incorporation of workers, peasants and students, and very especially children and youth.
  • The revaluation of the most important works of national art and literature and of universal culture.
  • The study of cultural roots, the recognition of their values, the development of their values and the research of folklore.
  • The establishment of cultural organizations, institutions and groups.
  • The organization of the art education system and the establishment of schools for the training of instructors.
  • The establishment of a national film industry and the extension of film services to rural and mountainous areas.
  • A growing publishing movement that gives the people the opportunity to learn about the variety and richness of Cuban and universal culture.
  • The multiplication of libraries, galleries and museums (with one or more per municipality).
  • To this we should add the emergence of the Houses of Culture as the fundamental nucleus of cultural activity in the territories.

Aimed at guaranteeing the people's participation in cultural processes and their access to all artistic manifestations, Cuban cultural policy understands these phenomena in their broadest sense and takes them as the very starting point and objective of development.

Since the triumph of the revolution, this strategy has also provided for the active participation of writers and artists in its design and practice, playing a fundamental role in the national and international projection of the values of Cuban culture and identity.

In this sense, it is essential to quote the aforementioned speech Words to the Intellectuals, by the historical leader of the Revolution, Fidel Castro. In his speech (June 1961), the path to be followed in the field of culture was glimpsed, always counting on the commitment of the creators, and key rights were endorsed such as the creation without distinctions of religious or political creeds or aesthetic restrictions.

In addition to reaffirming the transformative vocation of the revolutionary process, Words to the Intellectuals summarized the importance of culture for their work, remarkable at the time they were enunciated: two months after the attack on Playa Girón, in the midst of the literacy campaign, and experiencing an increase in the US blockade of Cuba.

Both then and now, it is maintained that the Revolution defends freedom - as Fidel expressed - and "that it cannot be, by essence, an enemy of freedoms".
Basic postulates of Cuban cultural policy

  • The reaffirmation and development of national identity; the universal and profoundly Latin American and Caribbean vocation of national culture.
  • The conservation, protection and dissemination of cultural heritage.
  • The recognition of cultural diversity.
  • The promotion and encouragement of artistic and literary creation.
  • The respect and support to the protagonism and creativity of the communities in the conduction of their socio-cultural processes.
  • Recognition of the role of culture in the promotion and orientation of socio-economic processes.

The cultural development programmes carried out in Cuba are an expression of the country's cultural policy and the principles set out above. Entities, agencies and organizations from various sectors are involved in their implementation, since their scope goes beyond cultural institutions and involves the social and economic spheres.

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