Orlando Garcia, president (below), described the National Union of Artists and Writers of Cuba as something quite different from unions as understood in most western countries. This is not a union established to bargain with management on behalf of workers, but a “uniting” of artists and writers to strengthen their community and develop young artists.
A non-governmental organization, which selects its own members, the union is made up of 216 members, including 66 women. It promotes writers and artists. It publishes children’s books. And a lot of the union’s time is spent working with children since “we are not daydreaming in heaven,” said Garcia.
With its own dynamic “completely independent of the state,” the union has played a major part in defending artistic freedom and fighting censorship and efforts to control free expression along the lines of the Soviet Union.
“We aim to reinforce the belief that reading and the arts improve the understanding of young people and are something that lasts a lifetime,” said Garcia.