Mon. Dec 17th, 2018

Cuba will "complement" controversial cultural decree in the face of artists' concern

Cuba will "complement" controversial cultural decree in the face of artists' concern



The Cuban government is drafting complementary regulations to the controversial Decree 349 with which it hopes to respond "to the concerns of creators and artists," who fear that these regulations will be used as a tool of censorship.

"The complementary norm will respond to the concerns of creators and artists," Cuban Vice Minister of Culture Fernando Rojas affirmed today in a state television program, insisting that the 349 "is not a decree against the freedom of creation. ", which is" enshrined in the Constitution. "

Rojas did not specify what the complementary regulations will consist of, if he will revoke some of the most controversial contents of the Decree nor if the preparation of those annexed rules implies that the 349 will not take effect tomorrow as scheduled.

Numerous artists have shown their concern over this decree in recent months and some of them tried this week to carry out peaceful protests at the Ministry of Culture headquarters and ended up detained, although they have already been released.

Among the most repeated reproaches by the creators, besides the potential censorship, is that the Government has not consulted them when developing the regulations that will govern their sector.

But according to the vice minister there has been debate and more than fifty meetings with "hundreds" of artists and writers grouped in the official National Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba (Uneac) and Hermanos Saíz Association (AHS).

"The debate will continue until we conclude the discussion of the complementary norm with the artists (…) The discussions have been very fruitful and have helped us to know important defects that the institutions have and that we are obliged to solve" , he stressed.

The most controversial point of Decree 349 is that which obliges artists to be attached to a cultural institution of the State, to which they must request express permission to act, exhibit and market their work.

Article 2.1 of the Decree establishes as contraventions rendering "artistic services without being authorized to perform artistic work in a position or artistic occupation" and that an artist "provides artistic services without the authorization of the corresponding entity", among others.

In contrast, Rojas said Thursday that "at all appears in the decree that the artist has to ask permission to exhibit his work" and that "marketing regulations are established for a long time."

"The decree does not bring anything new to how the work of art is marketed, but it ensures that the regulations established for commercialization are complied with," he said.

In his opinion, matters that "cause a lot of interest" like this, "are the preferred object of misunderstandings."

The official also clarified the attributions of the figure of the "inspector" that establishes Decree 349, another of the controversial issues because this figure will be the one that ensures compliance with the regulations and has among its powers to suspend a show or projection.

"In the complementary rule it will be clear that the performance of the inspector, except for very clear violations of legality, is always the result of a previous collective analysis," said the deputy minister.

The Government argues that the Decree is an "advance to stop the wave of globalization" and "the decline of the quality of cultural consumption", while seeking to remove from art the inappropriate use of national symbols, pornography, violence, vulgar or sexist language or discrimination based on race, gender, sexual orientation or disability.

Both the Amnesty International organization and the US Department of State. they have ruled against Decree 349, considering that it contravenes the right to freedom of expression and can be used to censor content.

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