Banned books and other forms of censorship

On the banning of books, censorship and other freedom of access issues

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Cuban writers protest return of censor

Cuban intellectuals have protested the return of a hardline official resposible for Stalinist like cultural policies during the 1970s. The official is "Luis Pavon Tamayo, who as head of the National Culture Council from 1971 to 1976 led witch-hunts against writers and artists not toeing the party line on proletarian revolution," reports Reuters. Pavon was interviewed on a Jan. 5 television program "featuring guests who have made important contributions to Cuban culture, but no mention was made of his role in censoring writers."

During Pavon's reign, many writers were imprisoned or hounded from their jobs, homosexuals were persecuted, Beatles music and miniskirts were banned, and officials would stop long-haired youth to cut their hair in public. Cuba's most celebrated playwright, Anton Arrufat, described how he lost his job and "was sent to work in a library basement for nine years tying parcels of books with rope." He was not allowed to publish for 14 years.

Writers who had later been rehabilitated led the protest, with what Reuters describes as an avalanche of internet messages. They met with Cuban Cuban Culture Minister Abel Prieto to raise their concerns but Prieto refused to apologize for the decision. Observers believe Pavon's reemergence may be an attempt by hardliners within the Cuban Communist Party to shore up their position at a time when the country is in transition with Castro's failing health.

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