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Fidel Castro: The first thing to save is culture

Published: 2017.10.27 - 16:14:09   /  /  Dra. Ana Teresa Badía Valdés  /  translated by  Luis E. Amador Dominguez  /

Fidel Castro: The first thing to save is cultureIt was 1998 and in a Cuba that received the influence of the collapse of the former Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), the leader of the revolution Commander in Chief Fidel Castro expressed: "The first thing to save is culture." Thus he reflected on the VI Congress of the National Association of Writers and Artists of Cuba (UNEAC), in which he further argued that cultural heritage is a national coat of arms.

Some of the antecedents of these ideas can be found in his 1961 "Words to the Intellectuals," in which he made clear that: "If revolutionaries ask us what matters most to us, we will say: the people. And we will always say: the people. The people in their real sense, that is, that majority of the people who have had to live in exploitation and in the cruelest oblivion. Our fundamental concern will always be the great majority of the people, that is, the oppressed and exploited classes of the people. “And he continued: "... the Revolution must have a policy for that part of the people, the Revolution must have an attitude for that part of intellectuals and writers. The Revolution must understand this reality, and therefore must act in a way that all that sector of artists and intellectuals who are not genuinely revolutionary, find that within the Revolution have a field to work and create; and that his creative spirit, even if they are not writers or revolutionary artists, has the opportunity and freedom to express themselves. That is, within the Revolution."

The cultural background of Cuba

When the National Printing House of Cuba was created in March 1959, it consolidated one of the first steps of the subsequent cultural development of the country. Since 1962 and under the name of National Editorial would remain under the direction of the famous writer Alejo Carpentier. The first published text was "El ingenioso hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha", a universal work of the Spanish Miguel de Cervantes y Saavedra.

Fidel Castro: The first thing to save is cultureThen came the National Literacy Campaign in which 271 thousand educators participated, who brought the light of teaching to more than 700 thousand people. In this regard, Fidel said on December 22, 1961: "No more solemn and exciting moment, no moment of legitimate pride and glory, like this one where four and a half centuries of ignorance have been broken down."

In that same year the National Council of Culture had been created with the desire to expand the cultural policy of the people. During this period, the National Ballet of Cuba, the National Library and the Academy of Visual Arts of San Alejandro began to strengthen, amongst other institutions. And with a more Latin American vision, the Casa de las Américas and the Cuban Institute of Cinematographic Art and Industry (ICAIC) were founded.

By 1962 the National School of Art (ENA) was created, which over time has contributed to the formation of the talent of the Greater Antilles.

In 2000, new Schools of Art Instructors were built, in this case with a more community projection. The Universidad para Todos program was also opened.

In the following decades, the development of the Cuban culture under the ideas of Fidel continued at the opening of the "José Martí" Experimental School in Old Havana: "Nothing will stop the Cuban people's uncontrollable march towards a general and integral culture and the highest place in education and culture amongst all the people of the world!", a phrase that today is more current than ever.

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