Message from Iskánder in reply to Ana Assenza
You wanted me to say something about the damned debate, and you have succeeded… If the email I just sent you makes any sense – by “sense” I mean if you understand the ideas and such - THEN SEND IT TO EVERYONE AND TELL THEM IT’S SIGNED BY ME!!!!!!!!!!! And if not, tell me why.
Dear Humans: Matters of “culture” are matters of the people….and we all belong to the people, and not only “our people,” who convey so much and speak their words in the atmosphere of mass broadcasting the voices of so many half-truths that they tout daily, to the bewilderment of so many people in our country, about the “achievements and social triumphs that we Cubans have the privilege of enjoying uniquely in Cuba while the world is sinking in the deepest shit….” and simultaneously ignore all the social rubbish that we Cubans live in our everyday lives, which really affects us: all the bureaucratic shackles that fuck up the lives of millions of people here in the “Key to the Gulf” from making the most elemental of negotiations – including at work – and then having to neglect, of course, the possibility of facing our “own problems” on a grand scale by resolving them – or at least recognizing them (the first step for the solution of any difficulty: recognize it) – while history demonstrates that the realities we don’t face at the moment are going to be twice as big when they are suddenly thrown in our faces any day around any corner.
Every day I hear many times on Cuban radio and television – not without blushing – how they call things “culture” that have nothing to do with the world of art.
And in the best of cases with art, when it’s known that culture is the way in which a people clearly live in a specific space and time, and that such culture includes the way people walk, eat, gesticulate and even the manner in which they wipe their ass when they shit; art and artistic demonstrations being two grains of sand barely lost and sometimes shining on the infinite beach of the ulterior motives of history of the culture of any people.
Every day I hear and see a countless number of brayings and stupidities and bad spelling in our mass media of communication while I hear and see people in those same media excessively apologizing for what simply is a duty for the Cuban revolutionary state – a duty for the many human beings in the history of our country who offered their lives – and “sell” us or “gift” us an image of us that doesn’t exist; full of demagoguery and fallacies and hypocrisy and glory and acts of repudiation and applause.
I always ask myself why things aren’t called by their names in the country where I was born and where I live by my own will.
I was born in 1969, and I certainly heard Pavón tell lies the whole epoch and later, with time here and there someone said his name not without contempt but I knew nothing of what they were talking about…I am an artist of my people – Cuba – and of humanity. I directed and produced the movie “Mañana” that actually is shown in the cinemas of this country, I’m a member of UNEAC and I am of the streets of Cuba, and I say: Was Pavón such a son of a bitch as they say, as they treat his image, and his mark on the earth….but I also tell myself: Why is there so much talk about Pavón and his five years of shit in the emails since the majority of the inhabitants of Cuba don’t have email and deserve to know and to express an opinion about what happens behind the curtains of their “culture”…I ask myself as a Cuban and a man of this planet what purpose the proposed actions have concerning the Pavón case while this country is full of Pavóns even today, and of small bureaucrats occupying offices where the immediate destiny of millions of things is “decided” and that deal with opening up a clean path, and we have enormous problems to resolve and name, problems that give birth to a thousand Pavóns a second and to another thousand beings without name and without ethics who will execute the directives of the Pavóns in the name of the Revolution and its leaders when a million times these Pavóns of today stab the simple mention of the word revolution and openly live in capitalism while they trumpet a socialist Cuba….,I ask myself why “hiding out” and not leaving Cuba matters, as if our problems weren’t part of the dirty, brutal, unjust, and cruel global village in which we live and that we have constructed, we humans, permitting millions and millions of Pavóns to exist in the world. I am one of those who think that recognizing our errors and assuming them are signs of strength and valor, and it does not weaken us in any way. I ask myself why not say it clearly – and here I am saying it – that our television is bullshit and that what they broadcast functions in the name of the same human being who speaks the words to the intellectuals, and here there is an enormous contradiction between the infinite image of Che Guevara – a symbol of the social revolution of the world and of us – and the collar and the necktie of today, with almost everyone overweight breaking their necks and spoiling appetites by announcing a revolution that has nothing to do with this bourgeois, narrow image and that makes such a dent in altruism and the proposition of those who really exercise power with respect to the people who put them in place. I ask myself why we Cubans permitted Pavón to start so much shit at that time and if there were not a critical, indolent, and permissive mass of people in our country implementing the same shit today that has nothing to do with the open, free, and disinterested spirit of those who founded our country with their blood. I ask myself if this is not already the time to stop putting on plaster and turning a blind eye before the true evil that begins with the economic – as we all know – and the distribution of the national “riches” and if we are going to demand a reckoning for the appearance on television of that Pavón and the one who was the head of ICR when they threw out my father and Silvio Rodriguez from that institute, and the tales about Quesada’s appearance, because it’s better not to take the bull by the horns and to demand that they leave aside so much shit and that we put in place to take “charge” of the world of “culture” only those who don’t think with their stomachs or in their underwear or bloomers and who are simply decent and capable people.
Let those who also ”upon defeat in battle” occupy the posts of leadership at all levels and not be robots who tell you constantly that they are only carrying out orders while they shit on the working people and disregard us ad infinitum until one day many of them surrender with their family to the “riches” of the territory which they so much opposed: the U.S.A.
I wonder who will return the friends lost by those Five Gray Years to the friends they lost. Who will return youth to those who fled eating shit and shutting their mouths because of people like Pavón, as if really the Pavóns of this world were important. I don’t even remember such a Pavón – when in reality we helped cretins like Pavón and those who on television “sacked” him, and we helped them with our silence, with turning a blind eye, with our thinking only about our own crusts of bread without taking into account that others were splurging on banquets that also belong to us, with our “now is not the right time” and so much hypocrisy and so much painful shit that I experienced in my country, without there being others who have been with their lives and their arts and their works on the side of those struggling without fear so that they can stop the Pavóns and the nameless mass of slaves who execute such shit and die leaving it with the neighbor in an undertone for such shit that they themselves provoke!!! We are not voting for a sofa!
Let’s not belittle our social evils, because without a doubt the Pavón event is very much one of our social evils — at two or three centimeters of national space!!!
Let’s look at the causes that engendered such shit and let’s confront them so they don’t continue under other forms and guises, fucking up so much of our lives!!!!
And long live the true revolution, shit
And don’t present me now as one of those who wants to start trouble with anyone nor anyone who says something I am not saying, nor who has said here that all the leaders are corrupt or shit, nor that all people are cowards, ok????!!!!
Open letter to Abel Prieto about Enrique Colina and the abuse of power, in demand for justice
Thanks to you the film MAÑANA, of which you know I’m the author, is the first Cuban cinematographic work that was achieved independently and that the Cuban state through ICAIC admitted in its catalogue to “distribute, commercialize, exhibit” and other similar “categories” whose meanings contain the purpose of making public the work that created the words in quotation marks: the quotation mark – if Castilian allows us to say QUOTATION MARK – because although MAÑANA has been exhibited through the island of Cuba “commercially” without many people knowing about it, even if ICAIC and this person wrote to you (you know very well that I’m the producer of the film), we have signed nothing legally defining the words in quotation marks and all the synonyms of this type which accompany a film that a “large production house” distributes (ICAIC in this case is the large house by its scope of national character in the most extensive meaning of the territoriality of the word)…thanks to you, I am saying – as I like to say things now – after the president of the ICRT (Ernesto López) conveyed to us that THERE WAS NO PRECEDENT THAT TELEVISION WOULD “PUT ON” MAÑANA SINCE ITS ADVISORS WERE SAYING THAT THIS FILM DID NOT HAVE A MORAL….after this dictum we came forward and you prompted our director to talk to ICAIC and ICAIC almost immediately authorized us legally so we could film the movie and in its turn it took the nationality I wanted it to have: Cuban.
Thanks to you then and to those who decided on behalf of ICAIC that my film existed legally in Cuba, establishing the legal precedent of legitimacy – those two words are valid together – of a production with this characteristic: independence. Thanks to you I say I have applauded publicly this decision because I consider it evolutionary, brave, necessary, human, respectful, inclusive, intelligent, mature and above all, REVOLUTIONARY in the full meaning contained in this word beyond its letters.
As you acted in this way with my movie, because we have known you, my absent brother and I since we were “kids” in those meetings in my parents’ house and we had affection for you from the time when you were not a minister, because you are an artist and a Cuban intellectual, because you are now the minister of culture, because you are a member of the Politburo of the Communist Party, because until now you have shown that you are not a coward, and above all because you are from Pinar del Rio and that is one of the most beautiful provinces in Cuba, where the good people have been the butt historically of an “injustice” by being the object of a thousand absurd stories, and all the men and women of Pinar del Rio that I know are good people; for all these reasons I direct myself to you to communicate my request that you remove immediately from your website the article that I attach here and that on this same website you apologize to me and to the thousands of Cuban men and women who have been insulted without showing the least feeling of respect for the people on the part of a cultural institution of the state directed by Fidel and Raúl – leaders about which neither friends nor enemies of Cuba and/or its revolution deny their certain leadership positions – and until the date in which I write you that the state, which is ours, has finally listened to the people and is working for the people.
I’ll explain better: you don’t have to go to the university to see clearly that the article I attached is not a critique of the film that was accomplished with so much work by all (hundreds) of men and women who labored energetically on it and, I would say, heroically, since INDEPENDENT means this work has to all be done almost without money to produce it and I then had to work very hard – and this type of work is very hard even when you have money, as you know – since when money has not been able to solve problems of technology, food, transport and a million other things, you have to work, work, work, and work 100 times more, doing more work than the work that usually passes for work in Cuba.
You don’t have to go to the university, I say, to see that the article in question is not a critique but rather an aggression against me and my film, my friends, my family, and my wife’s family, and the neighbors in the neighborhood of Querejeta in Playa, and those of Vedado, and the workers in the hospital clinic of surgery, Joaquín Albarrán, and the directors of ICAIC and its president, Omar González, and the national secretariat of the FEU and its president, Carlitos Lage, and the thousands of Cuban men and women who before my eyes applauded the movie MAÑANA in the theaters, and the names of the beloved artists of the Cuban people who appear in my film, like Silvio Rodríguez, Juan Formell, and Pedro Luis Ferrer among others….
and in the article in question you call the thousands of Cuban men and women I have just mentioned – and there are many, many more – you call us, I am telling you, crooks and crude people…I quote your text; “….lovers of trickery and rudeness.”
As a Cuban, I sincerely wonder:
What value is there for an institution of the Cuban state to have – in this case RADIO HABANA – and those who direct it and work there, to put at the disposition of millions of people in the world a writing where, openly, with a destructive and denigrating zeal, and with venom in a place where there ought to be a shared expression, I am “condemned” as an artist and insulted, since I am one of the thousands of spectators who liked the film?
What value is there for this institution to attack me publicly when I only am an artist of my country, a “youth” who has nothing material, no money, no power, while hundreds of people in Cuba – hundreds – have expressed their happiness to me and their pleasure when they saw in my film a work that MADE THEM THINK and with values that are artistic, aesthetic, human, ethical, and REVOLUTIONARY (also in the most extensive meaning of the word), people who have nothing to do with the “world of culture” but also people of “our culture,” like Fernando Pérez, Luis Alberto García, Jorge Perogurría, Silvio Rodríguez, Eduardo Moya, Humberto García Espinosa, Camilo Vives, Ernesto Rancaño, Alexis Levya (Kcho), María Eugenia García, Frank Delgado, Tensy Krysmant, Mariela López, Ángel Alderete, Abelardo Estorino, Luciano Castillo, the actors and actresses of MAÑANA, the technical team, and a lot more people?
Why is this institution attacking me by publishing this article when all I possess ON EARTH is my capacity to perform my work and my talent that I have always put at the service of my native land, and I am insulted before the world as are the thousands of Cubans who have enjoyed and applauded my film and who don’t have direct access nor even indirect access to the world of the Internet and of course they don’t know about these insults while millions of people on our planet can read on the site whose address is this http://www.habanaradio.cu/modules/mysections/singlefile.php?lid=2240 the concentration of destructive and disrespectful words that have been published there against me and my work?
I wonder what it means, how to interpret the fact that together with everything said against my name and the film that I have directed and together with the insults they throw at me, how should I interpret – I repeat – that there are together with these words – to the right – the images of the Cuban flag, of our five heroes unjustly imprisoned by the Empire, of Eusebio Leal, José Martí, Alejo Carpentier…., is there some message suggested in this containing the repudiation of my country toward me, of the state toward me???
Is this perhaps done visibly as part of the politics of the revolutionary Cuban state, as part of its cultural politics, to swear evasively and openly (these two words don’t contradict each other taking into account where this article is published, on the WEB) against its artists before the world when all of us here know that I – in this case – as an artist cannot call a “press conference” to respond publicly to whoever publishes about me, when in fact I have asked journalists who have approached me, I have asked to publish opinions that I have about the lies and nonsense that have been written in the press referring to MAÑANA and my work as the director and no one has given the “green light” to my request?
I am not a man who fears what is murmured about him, those who know me know I don’t care about those who speak badly about me behind my back – none of them -, I’m not afraid of ”criticism,” my opinions don’t change before public points of view that don’t agree with mine, well now, those who belong to the world of “culture” know that a “critic” emits his “opinion,” and that this “critic” can be honest, dishonest, cultured, not cultured, savage, brilliant, and a thousand other different things, but that it’s always just ONE MORE OPINION…we all criticize everything (and I don’t have to say that a CRITIC doesn’t exist as a unanimous or homogeneous entity and if they aren’t reading the articles published about my film where there is a heap of people – a heap is a form of speech – “expressing” totally contrary things and opposed to all the disciplines that they analyze), I don’t understand why they permit “critics” to publish their opinions speaking in the first person plural – implying to the reader therefore (I say purposely) - without establishing that what they say is what they want to say and never, of course, THE TRUTH about the work they discuss, those of us who are part of “culture” know what I am saying – among other things because we know, and on the other hand of course, that many of the articles that these critics publish often CONFUSE the public that reads them, because above everything else their analyses almost always split hairs (the director, for example) AND NEVER ANALYZE HOW IN CUBA AUDIO VISUAL PROGRAMS ARE OFFICIAL PRODUCED, UNDER WHAT CONDITIONS, AND HOW THE SYSTEM THROUGH ITS FUNCTIONARIES COMPARES CRITICALLY TO ACHIEVE SO MUCH RUBBISH AND PROMOTES AND WASTES THE STATE’S MONEY AND WHAT IS PRODUCED AND SHOWN TO THE PEOPLE IS BECAUSE NAMELESS, FACELESS FUNCTIONARIES APPROVE FOR THE SAME PEOPLE WHAT IS PRODUCED, SUPPORTED AND LATER SHOWN TO THIS PUBLIC, ALL THE ABOMINATION THAT LATER THE “CRITIC” “CRITICIZES” WITHOUT EVER GETTING DOWN TO THE TRUE CAUSE OF SO MUCH MATERIAL WASTE IN SO MANY WORTHLESS WORKS: IT’S MORE OR LESS THAT THE STATE PRODUCES IT BECAUSE IT WANTS TO; IT COULD IF IT WANTED DO IT ANOTHER WAY, NOTHING REQUIRES IT….THE “CRITICS” NEVER TALK ABOUT THIS….and I put these words in quotation marks since not all critics are critics, nor are all their opinions opinions…
Where am I going with this? to the article, the reason I am sending you this email, Abel, of course because it “teaches me a lesson” and the sentence handed down condemns me and is the executioner of my film and my person without saying even for one moment: the person who writes this got the opinion from that imbecile Alejandro Moya. When you see the film perhaps you will think as I do, perhaps not, AND I REPEAT TO YOU THAT I AM INSULTED AND SO ARE THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE WHO HAVE UP TO NOW ENJOYED “MANAÑA.”
Every one is free to think what they want and to write what they think. This is sacred for me, but it’s the duty of an institution of the Cuban state to respect the Cuban people and its artists, and to never put itself above them since they are the reason for the existence of the institutions, and even less to insult them – this doesn’t make them more powerful, and here no one is going to be intimidated before reprisals of this type (not I, in this case, and I won’t renounce a work which makes me feel humbly proud, happy, and even blessed for having done it!!!!!!) I don’t believe that people retract things from fear….THESE ARE NOT METHODS THAT WORK….
I am directing this to you, Abel, because there are many “managers” and whatever they undertake never succeeds but gets lost in 10,000 offices and there are people who don’t assume any responsibility, and already I don’t know with whom to speak about this and I am only one person who has no recourse before an enormous machinery of bureaucrats who talk but solve nothing (I’M NOT SAYING THAT THERE ARE NOT PEOPLE WHO CARRY OUT THEIR FUNCTIONS….) (AND EXCUSE ME FOR USING THE IMAGE OF THE ENORMOUS MACHINERY AND SUCH, IT’S JUST AN IMAGE, OK? BUT A TIRED ONE).
I’m not asking that you shoot anyone, nor condemn, nor sanction, nor expel, nor complain, nor speak evil, nor criticize, nor that any one be “driven” to auto-criticism, nor that you “pay” me for personal injury, nor that anything happen to whoever wrote the article (he has the right to write what he wants)…I only ask that you withdraw this article from the site, HABANA RADIO, and that in its place you publish an EXPLICIT apology to me and the people connected whom you insulted, and that those who permitted the affront to be published sign the apology. BECAUSE WE KNOW THAT WHEN SOMETHING IS MADE PUBLIC IN CUBA IN THE MASS MEDIA A TON OF EYES SAW IT AND APPROVED IT – let them publish the names of the authors then for having spread such an affront over THE INTERNET, let it be known on the same site who is in charge of this entity that is capable of attacking its people and let them condemn it.
In order for my film to see the light of day in Cuban movie theaters, a ton of people who are supposedly qualified to decide whether it has merit, and those who aren’t, saw it and thought it was marvelous. Is this article trying to say perhaps that these people count for nothing, that ICAIC doesn’t serve any purpose for having approved the showing of my film? Is this article perhaps trying to say the selection committee of the Film Festival is a herd of imbeciles for having accepted the “quality” of my film as the best to participate in an international contest in which a lot of works were rejected or dismissed because they are not “professional” and don’t have any artistic value? And if so, then what is left of the criteria for other films that under equal conditions have been accepted by the same people who accepted my film???
Should the Cuban state remove its inclusion of the film MAÑANA from the catalogue of Cuban films, is that what this article is saying?
I am sorry for taking up your precious time, dear Abel, but these things happened, and as a member of the people to whom I belong, I feel that I have an obligation duties, and as an artist of my people and a native of Cuba, it’s my duty in this moment to direct myself to you.
I DON’T GET WHY THEY PUBLISHED THESE INSULTS….
I sincerely hope for a quick response.
Revolutionarily, and with affection and respect, and with a certain detached pain for having witnessed how these things happen in the country that I love so much.
When I wrote a brief note – I think it was the day of December 26, 2006 – to communicate via this same way that MAÑANA was being released on December 28 and nothing was said in the media, a high functionary of ICAIC against whom I have nothing and with whom I have a good personal relationship and whose name I won’t mention here because it’s not necessary, told me that it wouldn’t do any good (to write these notes) since it would be suicide for me….The day before yesterday when I read the article that I’m attaching, I couldn’t avoid asking myself a question: DID I REALLY COMMIT SUICIDE, AND AM I NOW IN THE HELL THAT AWAITS REVOLUTIONARIES?!!!!!
ah; and in the article in question it says that the novel “Going Out at Night” is mine, in order to continue attacking me: THAT NOVEL IS NOT MINE.
and it also says, three times I believe, that Enrique Colina worked on my film: I NEVER IN MY LIFE HAVE WORKED WITH ENRIQUE COLINA, ASK HIM.
change and away.
no; a last note: the names of the personalities that I mention here, I am not using them as a shield nor as a likeness of anyone, I don’t want to fabricate anything….
I ASSUME WHATEVER HAPPENS AND ALL THAT COMES WITH IT: BUT WHAT I SAY HERE IS NO SECRET TO ANYONE.
January 31, 2007
Translated by Regina Anavy