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12 figures reflect on the last 60 years

Otero Alcántara: 'Cuba needs creativity, not a rejection of instability'

Luis Manuel Otero Alcántara, artist.


It is difficult to use that term when what happened was the establishment of a dictatorial regime.

For me, the Revolution, like that illusion that a lot of people believed in, has always been in doubt. To talk about a "revolution", afterwards something relatively positive should have followed, and 60 years later, everyone has seen that it never did.

That illusion that was developed in the early years of the regime was nothing but populism, nothing more than manipulation by Fidel Castro.

What should be salvaged from the revolutionary period?

Nothing ought to be salvaged. This country existed before Fidel Castro, with its good things and bad things.

I don't think it's about salvaging anything, but rather striving to achieve, towards the prosperity of the country. This is what is needed. In any country, it should be demanded that education and health should be accessible by all. Paid for with taxes, but accessible for all.

In a new Cuba, a commitment to freedom must be made. Freedom is the linchpin of all development, of prosperity. When you have freedom you have security, you have confidence, you have a multi-party system, you have freedom of expression, and you can tell the latest leader that he's corrupt. It is what was lost in Cuba, and it is the first thing we must push for.

How would you classify the current period in Cuba?

The current period in Cuba is an extremely interesting one. I am afraid of things slowing to a halt, and it ending up as another failed attempt at change for the better; despite all this collaboration, all this energy, all the discontent of the people, there was much of this back in the 90s, but there was also a lot of hunger, and poverty, and in the end the system survived, and has remained the same, down until today.

But the question is not whether there will be a new Cuba, but rather whether it will be better or worse.

Right now we are probing the reality, how it is unfolding, and sometimes I wake up more disappointed, sometimes less so, but it is still an extremely interesting time to apply pressure, with creativity. I think that what is lacking in Cuba today is a lot of creativity, for everything.

A lack of faith, both political and civic, has caused Cubans to lose their creative capacities. That line about how Cubans are creative is a lie; in the end it is just resistance to insecurity.

When there is no freedom, creativity is frustrated, and that is what happens with Decree 349. When you don't have freedom, creativity has to play by the rules, to fit certain molds, and I feel that this is what is happening to civil society right now, to the opposition, and the system itself. Everything is lacking creativity.

Many of Cuba's most brilliant minds have left, with all that pain, with all that frustration, that wound of not being able to do what they like and know how to do on the Island.

What is needed right now is to start including everyone, but through creativity.

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