Paulo Coelho

Stories & Reflections

Answer to the Cuban Minister of Culture

Author: Paulo Coelho

Cuba’s Minister of Culture, Abel Pietro, gathered last Saturday with the Society of Chilean Writers. There, while promoting Cuba’s Book Fair, he gave the following statement: “With Paulo Coelho we have a problem: he is a friend of Cuba and talks against the embargo, but I can’t put him in the Fair, the fair can’t lose its prestige.”
Firstly, I would like to say the following: I’ve been many times invited to participate in Havana’s Book Fair. I have always refused since I’m against its political regime, even though I’m a friend of Cuba and against the American naval blockade that hinders the people. By doing this I was avoiding a problem for the illustrious Minister of Culture.
I would like to remember something though: that whilst having an immense quantity of readers in the island, I find that the Minister of Culture’ statement is typical of any fascist imminence: meaning, the people doesn’t know how to choose.
The Minister of Culture may ignore that I gave freely the author rights of ALL my books, so that they could be printed in Cuba, and this way they would collaborate for a lower price – so vehemently advocated by the Minister – and equally for the democratization of culture.
Finally, I’m not at all surprised by this declaration: people that before were fighting for liberty and justice, for the right of free speech, once in power, transform themselves into the very oppressors they once overturned. George Orwell has already written about this many decades ago.
Sir, do not bother yourself. The prestige of the Fair depends on the readers, who will have my books for sale there, with the rights granted by me – even though this open letter may collaborate for their prohibition. Furthermore, your words, to sheer the cultural elite, do not surprise me in any way.
What would surprise me would be that instead of attacking me personally, and consequently all my Cuban readers, you had pronounced yourself in regards to the free and democratic elections in Cuba.

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