01.11.2012 - UNESCO Havana/Portal of Culture of Latin America and the Caribbean

The Voice of the Voiceless in Cuba

© UNESCO Havana/Sebastián Arias during his presentation. To his left, Mr. José Vitar.

The UNESCO Regional Office for Culture in Latin America and the Caribbean hosted last October 29 a talk on the Programme The Voice of the Voiceless, which is being developed by the Argentinean Foreign Ministry in cooperation with UNESCO. His Excellency Mr. José Vitar, Under-Secretary for Inter-Institutional Relations at the Ministry of Foreign and Religious Affairs in the Republic of Argentina, and Sebastián Arias, General Coordinator of The Voice of the Voiceless, made presentations on the Programme.

The event was attended by Her Excellency Mrs. Juliana Isabel Marino, Argentinean Ambassador to Cuba; His Excellency Ambassador Mr. Juan Antonio Fernández, President of the Cuban National Commission for UNESCO (CNCU); Mrs. Isaura Cabañas, CNCU Culture Specialist; Mrs. Gladys Collazo and Mrs. Ana Cristina Perera, CNPC president and vice-president, respectively; as well as Mrs. Anilia Moreno and Mrs. Margarita Mejuto, president and vice-president, respectively, of the National Council of Houses of Culture in Cuba. They were all welcomed by Mr. Herman van Hooff, Director of UNESCO Havana; and Mr. Fernando Brugman, Culture Programme Coordinator, together with a group of specialists at the Regional Office.

Mr. Vitar indicated that this programme is headed by His Excellency Ambassador Miguel Ángel Estrella, Permanent Representative of Argentina to UNESCO, a well-known artist who has always been committed to the cause of freedom and justice and to the struggle against the dictatorship in the South American country. He stressed that the idea behind the project is to unite the cultures of the region, especially those of the less visible groups in Argentina, Paraguay, Bolivia and Chile.

Sebastián Arias, on the other hand, said that the programme had been initiated in 2005 with the aim of disseminating the knowledge of indigenous and Afro-descendent cultures in the Southern Cone. The materials have been produced in CD and DVD format and have also been included in a book. A film exhibition was organized parallel to the meeting. Arias also said that all these materials had been developed jointly with the communities. He underlined that this is not a research work but a way to support the form and build upon the content of these cultures. He emphasized that work is being done on the concept of cultural diversity, that is, the promotion of exchanges to help build a culture of peace and understanding.

In his intervention, Fernando Brugman addressed the synergies of the Argentinean project with UNESCO programmes, and its possible relationship with the Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions and the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. The talk provided an ideal framework to discuss the way to link the Programme with the Cameras of Diversity Project dissemination network, an initiative that has since 2004 been developed by the UNESCO Regional Office for Culture, and to expand the geographic scope of the Programme. In this regard, CNCU President highlighted the need to articulate all these projects so that all the work by the voiceless and the faceless on the continent can be jointly disseminated, for example, by Foreign Ministries, at a time when the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) is already a reality in the region.

Prior to the meeting at the UNESCO Office in Havana, the representatives of The Voice of the Voiceless had attended the 28th Iberian-American Culture Festival, which was held on October 24-30 in the eastern province of Holguín, where Argentina was the guest of honour.

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