Rethinking Cuban Civil Society is a documentary produced by Isabel Alfonso, member of CAFE's executive board. Here, some insights about the topic, presented by Alfonso, accompanied by a trailer of the film:
"The notion of a Cuban civil society is often neglected or misrepresented by U.S. mainstream media. According to most sources, Cuban civil society is limited to political opposition, which has little impact on Cuban society. Consequently, every year the U.S. government allocates tens of millions of tax payer money to empower the opposition in Cuba. Such a narrative dismisses any instances of pluralism, reform and contestation that are taking place within Cuban society, sometimes in an autonomous way, sometimes inside state-run institutions.
These sectors of Cuban society are very critical of the Cuban government but, since they are not deemed "dissidents" by the U.S., nor receive U.S. funds, they remain invisible for the U.S. mainstream media, as scholars such as Sujatha Fernandes have noted.
In June of 2015, I visited the island and interviewed bloggers, members of religious organizations, members of autonomous intellectual groups, journalists (both affiliated with state institutions and independent), musicians and independent filmmakers, who are critical of the Cuban government but who also share a common view: Cuba has to change in many ways, but it is up to Cubans to decide the way such changes are to be implemented. Further, U.S. interventionist policies are not welcomed by any of these sectors nor by the majority of the Cuban population, and are an affront to deep-rooted nationalism.
The purpose of this documentary is to shed some light on said processes which, in spite of shaping Cuban's everyday life, remain in the shadows for the American audience, even in the context of having re-established diplomatic relations to begin a process of normalization between both nations.
I hope this documentary will contribute to a future of better relations between both countries."
Photo credits: Isabel Alfonso