Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel said today that "artistic creation in Cuba is free and will continue to be so", after a new decree to regulate the cultural industry on the island put a large part of the sector on the war footing. .
"Some try to misrepresent the scope and purpose of such regulation, and associate it with an instrument to exercise artistic censorship," said the president during his speech closing the last annual plenary session of the National Assembly (unicameral Parliament), in which the text of the new Constitution was approved.
This is the first time that Diaz-Canel publicly refers to this controversial issue, which in recent weeks confronted the leaders of the country with artists and intellectuals who criticized the Government for not having reached a consensus with them on Decree 349, whose content they considered also a potential censorship tool.
The president acknowledged on Saturday that the decree "should be better discussed and better explained by its importance" and called "the artists with a proven and committed work" to dialogue with the Government "how to implement this rule."
Although the decree was due to enter into force two weeks ago, part of its content has been suspended while a dialogue process has been opened with the ruling National Union of Writers and Artists (Uneac) and the Hermanos Saíz Association (AHS) to elaborate complementary norms for its implementation.
Diaz-Canel insisted that the Government should protect the values of national culture against "pseudo-artistic productions that give an image of the country that we have never been" and stressed that the only objective of Decree 349 is "to protect the culture of false artists and the pseudo-culture that generates anti-values ".
In addition, he denounced that among those who campaigned against the new regulations there are "entities alien to the culture, who never worried and kept silent before the proliferation of vulgarity, banality, violence, discrimination and sexist and racist attitudes "
Earlier this month, during the week prior to the entry into force of the regulation, several artists who tried to carry out peaceful protests at the Ministry of Culture headquarters were arrested and later released, among them the activist Tania Bruguera.
Both Amnesty International and the US Department of State have ruled against the 349 on the grounds that it contravenes the right to freedom of expression and can be used to censor content.