Marina Ochoa’s Messages – POLEMICA – The 2007 Intellectual Debate
Marina Ochoa’s Messages / POLEMICA: The 2007 Intellectual Debate
Posted on December 26, 2013
Before anything else, please forgive me for entering so late into the
discussion. My life is very complicated precisely because of the climate
of indifference, incapacity and/or corruption that I see confirmed in
all the applications to the housing “machine”. I am appalled! I mention
it because in my opinion what brought an end to socialism in the
countries in the East was the unpunished mixing up of interests on the
part of those who became millionaires during the socialism, opportunism,
corruption and repression. Criminals who went unpunished because of the
absence of opportunity for criticism, debate and for a culture of
criticism of course. Gorbachev and Yeltsin only delivered the coup de
grace … we should all think about that and those involved should take
I am not a theorist and am speaking to you on the basis of my principles
I think it’s the moment to get to the essence, or rather, to other
essences. First I want to talk about the demoralising effect of
repression. And the confusion and paralysis it produces. That would
partly explain why the response from the culture, on many occasions, did
not display the necessary consistency. I know a lot about that. The
assemblies for purging the School of Architecture (in the second half of
the 60’s), in the middle of my adolescence, truly terrified and confused
me. The lack of correspondence between the political debate, full of
high-sounding ideas, and the meanness in practice bewildered me. I
didn’t understand anything, I couldn’t articulate anything. I tasted the
flavour of impotence. Many of the members of the “purification”
tribunals are in exile. “Purification”, for God’s sake, seems like
something imported from fascism!
Later, in the 70’s, it happened in the School of Journalism. I was a
student of Eduardo Heras [Ed. note: Cuban short story writer] and the
same thing happened again. In both places the devaluing of the human
essence was part of the strategy. Then came a period in which it seemed
we had suffered some kind of collective amnesia, from which we didn’t
want to awake to avoid going through the story of our weakness? And
then, a new low hit with Alicia … frustrated because she was responded
to by the film producers and the members of the culture which supported
us with principles, unity, coherence and firmness. We manage to sort out
the differences between us, which exist, as they do everywhere and we
declare a truce in the fighting in order to safeguard our cultural
project, which we are still getting on with.
Now I ask those who cite our intellectuals for not answering forcefully
at the given moment, is it better to march off into exile, which is
anyone’s right, which I don’t question, rather than collect the
fragments of our beings, feelings, hopes, and also our revolutionary
existence and remain here, fighting in our own way, as best we can, to
rescue a cultural project we believe in? We must respect the way each
one of us fights, because we are all products of traumatic events which
have overwhelmed us. I believe we have to express clearly and coherently
what kind of country we want to have and what kind of culture. Therefore
I propose we take up again the concepts which were current in the
foundation period of the Revolution, later distorted by interpretations
which were circumstantial, obtuse, opportunist and convenient for the
Palabras a los Intelectuales [Ed. note: Words to the Intellectuals -
famous speech of Fidel Castro’s in 1961, setting out his views on
freedom of cultural expression] which unfortunately they use because of
the lack of conceptual definitions.
Take up again “the inclination of the avant-guard, the freedom of
expression, the independence of individual evolutions, the search for
the roots of creative feeling and the attempt to make clear the
spiritual values of man”, to be found in Origenes [Ed. note: Origins, a
Cuban literary cultural magazine] and what Carlos Rafael Rodriguez (Hey!
called “the prince of Cuban Marxism”) expressed on March 23, 1982 on the
30th anniversary of the foundation of the Nuestro Tiempo society [Ed.
note: Cuban cultural institution in the ’50’s].
I think we have to get the bogeyman of openness away from our cultural
and political life. The permanence of the Cuban Revolution is a symptom
of the fact that our “specificities” are stronger than our
“regularities”. We can’t delay any longer the culture of exercising
opinion and debate, or we will pay dearly, even more so than up to now.
Our people are the most defenceless in the world against the avalanche
of neoliberal culture. We painstakingly modelled ourselves as passive
recipients. As consumers, in all senses of the word of what they give us.
The battle of ideas should be this: a battle and I think this debate
illustrates how it never should have been.
I hope I have contributed something to this debate. Big hug.
Another message from Marina Ochoa to Gustavo Arcos Fernández-Brito.
Dear Gustavo (Arcos Fernández-Brito):
I’ve been filming and I am getting prepared to start editing, and
therefore although I have wanted to get in touch I haven’t had the time
or the energy, so I end up with dispersed neurons.
The creation of a wailing wall for artists is bad news. They don’t
understand anything. We say tweet tweet and they answer quack quack.
The 47 years in which the “vanguard of the proletariat” has been
translated as the right to think for us, deciding for us whatever does
or doesn’t suit us as individuals, family, nation, has corroded the
capacity to use our judgement and has put us in the rearguard, while the
thinking of our people has become more complicated, growing, and
overflowing the society “designed” from above, which functions less each
day; (the other, the underground, parallel or floating society which
functions as a diversion, gives the lie to it every minute) but on the
screens of our television, which often seems to be directed by Walt
Disney, it appears as ideal.
The son of one of my nieces, 9-years-old, sighed while he was watching
the national TV news, “I would like to live there!” Childish wisdom …
and I swear to you I didn’t make this up.
I was very grateful to receive the intervention of the wonderful Colina
and that of Belkis Vega [Ed. note: Cuban film producer]. Indispensable.
I think that Criterios [Ed. note: Desiderio Navarro’s magazine, produced
by the Centro Teorico Cultural] should collect everything they have
expressed and bring out a number of the magazine and include what the 30
will produce. Certainly, knowing professionals of Belkis’ stature, in
all senses of the word, professional, moral, humane, revolutionary, I
can’t understand how it’s possible that her name does not position her
to occupy roles such as the presidency of UNEAC [Cuban Writers and
Artists Union], the presidency of ICAIC [Cuban Film Institute], as they
are looking at the names of possible substitutes, all machos, men,
Colina refers to the responsibilities of Torquesada [Ed. note: Armando
Quesada, member of the Stalinist National Council of Culture in the
70’s] in the ICRT [Cuban Institute of Radio & Television].
I also know that they made Torquesada adviser to the programme “Open
Dialogue” following a negative report about the programme put out by
this man, with a recommendation to take it off the air, which shows a
very interesting practice: I put you in as adviser to someone you want
to destroy and explain the drop in the quality of the debate in the said
I won’t take any more of your time and congratulate you on your honesty
Translated by GH
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