On June 30, 1961, the last day of a series of meetings with Cuban artists and intellectuals, Fidel delivered a speech that would become a cornerstone of revolutionary cultural policy
José Martí National Library Assembly Hall, June 16, 1961. A large group of writers and artists responded to a call from the leadership of the revolutionary government to present their opinions, air concerns, clarify questions, resolve problems and address issues related to literary artistic creation and its promotion.
This was the first of three meetings; the last would take place in the venue itself on June 30, a day when Fidel, summing up the series of conversations, would deliver a speech which, from that moment on, would be known as “Words to the intellectuals,” a cornerstone of revolutionary cultural policy.
Opening the gathering, Osvaldo Dorticós, then President of the Republic, shared a conviction and a desire: the historical responsibility of the protagonists of intellectual life to “put their talents, their artistic abilities and their sensitivity at the service of the people and the Revolution,” and the need for absolutely open, cordial exchanges: “Rather than directing, we come here to be directed by you, to converse in order to reach conclusions.”
Since then, permanent and fruitful dialogue between the political and intellectual vanguards has been essential in the development, implementation and successive updating of cultural policy. Even when situations and processes needed to be rectified and redirected, dialogue has been a dynamic and decisive factor.
Sixty years later, that seminal experience is strengthened and multiplied, providing principles of action for cultural institutions, creators’ organizations (Uneac and the AHS) and the current political and governmental leadership.
For both vanguards, Fidel is the compass. As stated by First Secretary of the Party Central Committee and President of the Republic, Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, at the closing of the 8th Party Congress: “In the ideological battle we must turn to Fidel, who taught us not only that culture is the first thing to be saved, but that, to save it, we must be in constant interaction with our intellectuals and artists.”