Date: Wed, 8 May 1996 05:09:41 -0500
From: "L-Soft list server at MIZZOU1 (1.8b)" <LISTSERV@MIZZOU1.missouri.edu>
Subject: File: "DATABASE OUTPUT"
To: Haines Brown <BROWNH@CCSUA.CTSTATEU.EDU>
> S * IN ACTIV-L
--> Database ACTIV-L, 7517 hits.
> print 07463
>>> Item number 7463, dated 96/05/06 21:33:01 -- ALL
Date: Mon, 6 May 1996 21:33:01 CDT
Sender: Activists Mailing List <ACTIV-L@MIZZOU1.MISSOURI.EDU>
Subject: Raul Castro's attack on intellectuals stirs backlash
Raul Castro's attack on intellectuals stirs backlash
By Mimi Whitefield and Juan O. Tomayo,
Knight_Ridder News Service,
6 May 1996
MIAMI -- Reflecting a rift within Cuba's ruling elite, top
intellectuals and even Communist Party members are publicly
criticizing demands by President Fidel Castro's brother that they toe
the revolutionary line.
The surprisingly spirited defense mounted by writers, artists and
academics appears to have eased, at least for now, fears that Raul
Castro's demand would signal the beginning of a crackdown on
"This has radicalized the whole intellectual community," said
one foreign diplomat in Havana.
Raul Castro, armed forces chief, sparked the furor when he attacked
some intellectuals last month as "fifth columnists" too
moderate and contaminated by a reformist "virus" to
effectively defend socialism.
Raul's demands for ideological purity were part of a report from the
Communist Party's ruling Politburo, that he read to the 225-member
Tensions between moderates who favor reforms and hard-liners who call
for "ideological rearmament" have been evident in Havana for
months, but never had they gone as public as they did after Raul's
The most direct retort came from Alfredo Guevara, head of Cuba's
internationally known cinema institute, at the funeral April 17 of
Tomas Gutierrez Alea, director of films critical of the revolution
such as "Strawberry and Chocolate."
"He was a difficult revolutionary, and that made him even more of
a revolutionary," Guevara said in his eulogy of Gutierrez
Alea. "Simpletons are not revolutionaries, even less those who
believe they are."
A less public reply was issued by Cuba's top union of writers and
artists, known as UNEAC, which sent a note to President Castro warning
of the dangers of "stifling creativity," said one UNEAC
"Creativity has always been part of the revolution," said the
letter, which according to the UNEAC member was signed by, among
others, UNEAC President Abel Prieto and Miguel Barnet, one of Cuba's
A discreet retort even came from Culture Minister Armando Hart, who
began a speech last week by saying he agreed with Raul and finished by
defending the very intellectuals Raul had attacked, said one author
who was in the audience.
The Culture Ministry will continue to "provide a space for
dialogue on the complexities of society," the author quoted Hart
as saying at the release of the latest issue of Contracorriente
(Countercurrent), one of the magazines criticized by Raul.
Many Communist Party members meeting in rank-and-file sessions around
Havana over the past two weeks have spoken out strongly against
"the intolerance" displayed recently by hard-liners, sources
in Havana said.
"The cells don't want witch hunts and are saying so loudly,"
one source said. "Party bureaucrats tend to be more hard-line, but
they are hearing the message from the bases and passing it up to the
At the heart of the dispute is a long-running debate between moderates
and hard-liners: The moderates favor broader economic openings, while
the hard-liners argue that since Cuba has weathered a five-year
economic crisis, it's now time to pull up revolutionary socks.
Government officials say Raul only intended to warn against letting
down Cuba's ideological guard. To say his speech marks the beginning
of a repressive campaign against intellectuals would be "an
oversimplification," said National Assembly President Ricardo
To prove their point, they note that despite the furor, one of the
intellectual magazines attacked by Raul published a new issue
Thursday. The magazine, Temas, contained articles on the Roman
Catholic Church unlikely to please the hard-liners, Havana residents
But some intellectuals claim it was their vocal backlash that kept
Raul's speech from sparking more significant attacks on academics and
artists than the ones seen so far.
The director of a Havana think tank directly attacked by the armed
forces chief -- the Center for the Study of the Americas -- was fired
and replaced with Dario Machado, a well-known academic with solid
Havana has cut back the number of exit visas for Cubans to attend
academic and cultural seminars abroad -- one of the ways in which Raul
Castro charged that Cubans become "contaminated" with
capitalist ideals, Western diplomats say.
The head of the Marxism Studies Department at the University of
Havana, Jorge Luis Acanda, was fired April 19 over foreign news
reports that quoted him as saying that Marxist studies had fallen on
hard times. He may yet be stripped of his teaching position and party
membership, one friend said.
Copies of Raul's speech have been distributed to all academic centers,
and researchers have been told to read and discuss it. "They're
making it very clear this is the official line," one University of
Havana professor said.
In the most worrisome development, the Communist Party's Central
Committee sent teams of "inspectors" to about a half-dozen
academic centers attacked in the speech.
Some of the academics have objected strenuously to the investigators'
questions about their work and foreign financing, according to
professors who were questioned. But in general, the sources added, the
investigators appear to be trying to avoid seeming too intimidating.
The government is acting "like a teacher who slams her desk and
`Children!' when there's too much noise in the classroom," one
Havana intellectual said. "It doesn't mean the children can't ever