Tag Archives: Cuba

The Quotable Cristobal Colon

10 Oct

While we enjoy a day off of work there’s also that wee problem of trying to figure out how to reconcile our relaxation with a day to commemorate a man who kicked off the whole imperialism and conquest of the western hemisphere thing…. A man who, having encountered the Taino of Hispaniola and Cuba remarked that:

 “They ought to make good and skilled servants, for they repeat very quickly whatever we say to them.” …  “I could conquer the whole of them with 50 men and govern them as I pleased.” [via Vito de la Cruz]

I like the way this article puts it – “What if Congress declared January 30, the day that Hitler was appointed German Chancellor, a national holiday? ”

This type of critique, though somewhat common, is not likely to take hold as a serious challenge to mainstream narrative on our day off.  Let’s be real. We’re unlikely to go baghdad with it today. We could, as Vito de la Cruz talks about in today’s Huffington post, simply not celebrate the man. You can reclaim it as a commemoration of Indigenous people’s? How ’bout Immigration Day? Or take the free day to Occupy Wall Street?!!!??

Actually, I think this some-e-card sums it up best:


Art Focus: Television Culture in Cuba

19 Aug

An NPR feature on Simone Lueck’s photos of Cuba’s television culture caught my eye. Lueck took these photos over the course of two weeks in 2000 – they focus on the role that television plays in the everyday home life of the island. She writes for NPR:

“There were some fascinating developments in the living rooms of Old Havana. Many of the sets that I saw in 2000 — 1980s Russian models and mid-century TVs from the U.S. — had been replaced with shiny new imports from China. The cheap, new TVs were surrounded by the same vintage fans, rickety ornaments and faded family photographs. It seemed the only thing that had changed was the TV itself.”

Too often we in the US are a little bit too awed by Cuba’s adaptation of older technology – its ’50s cars and Soviet appliances… What can these images say about the struggles and character of its people? The ideas of its youth? The trajectory of its politics? They

While these images fit the familiar trope, they are certainly impressive in composition. 

See more at  http://www.simonelueck.com/cubatv.html


Castro Turns 85 and Cuba Celebrates its First Gay Wedding

13 Aug
Fidel Castro becomes the leader of Cuba as a r...

"By the power invested in me by the Republica de Cuba, I now pronounce you..."

A perusal of today’s headlines show a stark difference in coverage of Fidel Castro’s 85th birthday.

In more interesting news, a Cuban couple – a transgender woman (Cuba has authorized sex changes under its national health policy) and a gay man are celebrating Castro’s birthday by getting married – it’s a “gift” to the former leader, they say.  While same sex marriage is still banned in Cuba, the event is considered by the media, and the couple themselves, as the country’s first gay marriage. Their wedding, the couple says, “will be an ode to freedom, and the rights of the LGBT community.”  How revolutionary indeed.

Cuba Opens its Economy and Kick Out the Jams

7 Aug
Anónimo Consejo

Anónimo Consejo

An LA Times article today continues to hit on what is quickly becoming a trope in US journalism on Cuba – a focus on the state’s easing of controls on the economy under Raúl Castro and emergence of the private sector, small-business entrepreneurs and land-owners to be. 

Is it a big deal that one of the last strongholds of Marxist economics in the world is legalizing private property and enterprise? Of course. Still, the repeated publication on this type of article gives the impression that there’s not much else going on in Cuba. Well, this and the continued detainment of USAID operatives.  If you’re thinking of investing then hold your horses.

Maybe it’s just me – while these articles speak at length to the hopes and dreams of burgeoning Cuban entrepreneurs – they also read all too eager to declare Cuba (almost) open for business and the communist system a complete failure. Fair enough – I’m not about to make a counter-argument on the merits of the Castroism-Marxism – but let’s remember that Cuba has resisted U.S. sabotage and embargo for nearly 50 years.

For a change of the discussion on Cuba I was happy to find CUNY Professor Sujatha Fernandesopinion piece on Cuban Hip-Hop. The piece highlights groups like Obsesion and Hermanos de Causa. Most interestingly she points out that Cuban rap “stands in stark contrast to American rap, where the diversity of sounds and themes has been eschewed in favor of a catchy pop formula with a focus on consumption…” One major factor is that the government, in recognition of hip-hop’s popularity among the youth, began to financially support the Cuban hip-hop music scene.

While that “distinctiveness,” she writes, “may be lost as the country opens up to a global market economy… [i]t’s worth remembering that imposed, even self-imposed, isolation can be a crucible for artistic creativity.”

Let’s hope Cuban hip-hop artists recognize as much – if the economic embargo has kept Cuban rappers from mimicking the likes of Drake and Lil’ Wayne then I think we’ve done them a favor.

And now – some Anónimo Consejo: