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    Visiting Cuban professor gives lecture at FIU

    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.

    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
    Obama administration.

    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 – (24 October 2009)

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