Fidel Castro’s Speech for Intellectuals, Five Decades Later
1961, the Cuban Revolution was barely a creature that was
beginning to form itself. The world’s eyes were watching
over it to look closely every action of those “insolent”
bearded men in power.
In 1961, the Cuban Revolution was barely a
creature that was beginning to form itself. The world’s eyes
were watching over it to look closely every action of those
“insolent” bearded men in power.
A few months from the triumph over Fulgencio Batista’s
dictatorship, the government had to go through many problems
like illiteracy, poverty, deep control of U.S. capital in
the main economic branches of the nation, and so on.
The sector of culture also went through many ups and downs,
and it was necessary to expand the process of artistic
creation to every corner of the country and open the doors
of formerly private institutions to the people.
The situation was very difficult among strong internal and
foreign pressures, with disputes among the different groups
that contributed somehow to the definite victory of January
In that context, with a radicalization of the social process
underway in the island, there was an event that would mark
definitely the cultural policy of the nation, an event that
had no time schedule or program to organize the speakers’
presentations and the topics to discuss because there was
only one: creation during the Revolution.
The event took place on June 16, 23 and 30, 1961 in the Jose
Marti National Library, in Havana. Many important
intellectuals of that epoch met there and discussed the
range of opportunities the revolutionary process had to
offer for artists and creators.
There has been a lot of talking and writing on these
meetings, but mostly on the anthological speech by Commander
in Chief Fidel Castro, which put an end to those
speculations: “Within the revolution, everything, against
the Revolution, no rights”.
The Cuban cultural policy, sometimes based on respect of
creation and some others based on censorship of anything
harmful to the process of onstruction of socialism, was
established from this statement and its subsequent misguided
or accurate interpretations.
The Cuban minister of culture at the time, Armando Hart,
said 30 years later that that statement by the leader of the
Cuban Revolution summed up an epoch and the political root
that fostered the Cuban cultural work from that moment on.
Hart pointed out that during these five decades, the ideas
of that speech opened the Revolution unsuspected paths in
culture and favored the creation of an immeasurable work.
Intellectual Graziella Pogolotti affirmed that this event
brought about the creation of the National Union of Artists
and Writers of Cuba (UNEAC), the construction of more
cultural spaces, and the establishment of the foundations in
the training of new creators.
The rising Revolution knew right from the start how to unite
intellectuals to create a participating entity in the
creation of the new society.
Half century after that speech, it has been the guiding
platform of a revolutionary process that, as said by Fidel
“means more culture and more art”, regardless of its
posterior misguided interpretations and its dogmatic