In Times of Plague the Larger Specimens Will Die

12 Jan

In Holguin the provincial committee of the National Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba, also known by its initials UNEAC, decided in December to fire two writers from their jobs, an act followed by the expulsion of one of them from its membership. I heard about it some days later from intellectuals who participated in the “meeting and purge” and who gave me the details.

The writers, Manuel García Verdecia and Rafael Vilches Proenza, according to the censors of UNEAC, “had used Internet accounts” (which are permitted in government cultural centers for the use of artists and specialists who work there) for what the IT security of the place classified as “conduct improper for intellectuals committed to the revolutionary process.”

García Verdecia, poet and novelist, was also vice president of UNEAC in Holguin and was accused of not acting in a manner consisted with this duties as director, and so having ceased to be reliable, according to the opinion of the current president of the Writer’s Union.

Vilches Proenza was intercepted by the same computer security officials and they took his flash memories which contained personal data as well as messages exchanged with Cuban writers living in exile.

In a letter sent to writers and friends that circulated in December by email on the “Cuban Intranet” the Holguin novelist Manuel García denied having violated the rules established by Resolution 127 of 2007 about computer security, dismissed the accusations of the UNEAC president painter Jorge Hidalgo Pimental, and said he’d swiped an intellectual opinion but in order to improve the social process embodied in the Cuban Revolution. For his part, the novelist and poet Rafael Vilches has decided to retreat to his house and make no public declarations.

Four years ago, a group of young people in Holguin including myself, created the literary publication Bifronte, but we were threatened, interrogated, and some of us were expelled from our work in the cultural sector for heading up a cultural project the margin of Cuban officialdom.

Friends from that era who walk the world knew, through messages coming out of Cuba by the same Internet route that no one can control, what happened and asked me to recall at least some of Rafael’s verses. I prefer these.

Do not be surprised.
(To the memory of Albert Camus.)
In the city the rats
have begun to die
That fear
not seize the city
prisoners don’t care
do not be surprised
in these times of plague
the larger specimens
will die.

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