Posted on Saturday, 10.24.09
Visiting Cuban professor gives lecture at FIU
A Cuban professor visiting Miami said Cuba needs more thoughtful debate
to address difficult issues.
BY JUAN O. TAMAYO
Cuba today allows a level of public criticism and debate on
controversial topics that would have been impossible 20 years ago,
“though there's still a long road ahead,'' a University of Havana
professor visiting Miami has said.
“I am in favor of promoting more freedom. The problem is accepting that
challenge and continue advancing'' through thoughtful debate on the
island's many problems, said Rafael Hernández. “Cuban society is not
white or black, it's not a matter of [either] zero or 100.''
Hernández, who also edits Temas, an academic journal that has sometimes
taken up issues usually taboo in communist-ruled Cuba, delivered a
lecture Thursday at Florida International University titled Catharsis or
Debate? Critical Thinking in the Public Sphere of Cuba Today.
He said he was denied a U.S. visa just last year, and credited his
current visit, at the invitation of the University of Texas in Austin,
on the increased cultural and academic exchanges being allowed by the
Hernández said Cuba needs more thoughtful debate to address difficult
issues such as drugs abuse, race inequalities, the black market,
prostitution, corruption, the negative impacts of tourism, migration and
But the island also needs less “catharsis'' — emotional arguments in
which he said there's “a denial of alternatives, personal reprobation,
verbal aggression . . . a monologue rather than a dialogue.''
When a professor in the audience of some 60 people shouted out “Like
Fidel Castro?'' he shot back, “If it was only Fidel Castro, it would
not be a problem.''
While Hernández carefully measured his words when referring to the
island's problems — he agreed the the newspaper Granma is “boring''
and spoke of the “issue of democracy'' rather than the lack of
democracy — he used much sharper language to dismiss more hard-line
criticism of the government.
Asked about Yoani Sánchez, whose Generation Y blog is generally viewed
as offering thoughtful if highly critical commentary on Cuba's communist
system, Hernández said the blog did not meet his vision of critical debate.
“By definition, it is not an analytical debate,'' he said.
“Unfortunately, it has more of catharsis than debate. Sorry,'' he said.
“I am not saying that there is not real critical debate on the
Internet, but there's too much cyber-chancleteo,'' Hernández added,
using a Cuban slang for gutter-level discourse.
Visiting Cuban professor gives lecture at FIU – South Florida –
MiamiHerald.com (24 October 2009)