“American-Philia” Conquers Cuba / Cubanet, Miriam Celaya
Cubanet, Miriam Celaya, Havana, 29 June 2017 — Ten days have passed
since Donald Trump announced his “new” political strategy toward Cuba,
and while the official Cuban press monopoly has wasted gallons of ink on
newspapers and on dozens of reports, interviews and TV programs to show
the world the indignation and rejection of the Cuban people at the gross
interference of US imperialism, which attempts to undermine the
portentous social and economic achievements reached in almost 60 years
of Castro rule, national life continues its boring course at ground
level, far from the rhetorical battles.
If the US president’s speech has had any palpable effect in Cuba, it is
in the possibility of clearly confirming, on a daily basis, the enormous
gap that exists between the olive-green power elite, as an eternalized
political class, and common Cubans. Oblivious to the political and mass
organizations at the service of the gerontocracy, which these days have
shown discipline through the obligatory task of drafting their
declarations of repudiation of the Empire of Evil, the people remain as
alienated from the old “revolutionary” epic, and from its ideological
disputes as is possible. Particularly when the enemy they are fighting
is none other than the endearing monster in whose entrails so many
thousands and thousands of Cubans yearn to live.
A breach that has become all the more visible because the majority of
Cubans today increasingly identify less with the official discourse and
is more irreverent in relation to the State-Party-Government and with
everything it represents.
If anyone were to doubt this, all he would need to do is to walk the
streets of the Cuban capital and check the number of American flags that
proliferate every day, either as articles of clothing worn by numerous
passers-by, such as caps, sandals, head scarves, etc. or decorating the
interior of private transportation. It is like a contest in social
irreverence towards everything that stems from the government and its
colossal propagandistic and repressive apparatus, a phenomenon that was
unthinkable only a few years ago.
Thus, the more the official voice shouts itself hoarse calling for the
union of national sovereignty and the reaffirmation of socialism, not
only does American-philia expand among the population of the island –
with even greater strength, although not exclusively, among the younger
generation – but it also adopts multiple variants of expression. It is
not limited to the open display of the US flag, but also has well-known
trademarks originating in that country, signs of official US
institutions on textiles (including t-shirts labeled: USA, DEA, or FBI,
for example), as well as images and names of famous US cities.
It is like an effect of funny magic, by virtue of which everything
having to do with that country draws me near. Or, to put it another way,
to think intensely about a thing is a superstitious way (like “I hope it
becomes true” while crossing one’s fingers) of preparing the ground for
the pleasure of enjoying it.
But if, in the daily routine of the city, the American symbols continue
to mark the pace, as if mocking that dreaded label of “ideological
diversion,” presumably fallen into disuse, on the beaches the phenomenon
constitutes a quasi-apotheosis. This can easily be seen at the beaches
east of Havana, where coastline areas from El Megano to Guanabo in the
extensive sandy stretches where – despite Trump’s bitter declarations
and the strong patriotic protests of the Cuban government – the stars
and stripes constantly parade in the shape of towels, men’s shorts and
lightweight children’s swimwear, caps, umbrellas and even inflatable
rafts or infant’s lifejackets.
It must be torture for the Castro clan and its claque that no
regulations are in effect, (especially not now, when diplomatic
relations exist between the two countries), that prohibit the use of the
US flag in clothing or in any object created by the human imagination.
Would it be justifiable to quell those who wear a symbol that represents
a friendly people entirely, and not just their political powers?
But this is not about a new phenomenon either. It turns out that this
epidemic of a taste for everything American and its symbols had been
manifesting itself in a more or less contained but constant way for
several years, and was unleashed with marked emphasis at the time of the
reestablishment of relations between the governments of Cuba and the US,
especially during and after President Barack Obama’s visit to a Havana,
until turning into an unstoppable cult to the chagrin of the hierarchy
of the geriatric elite and its ideologic commissaries, who try in vain
to tackle a hare that is like the mythological hydra, spouting seven
heads for each one they cut off.
And while all this intense American mania continues to be sharpened in
Cuba – the historical bastion of the continent’s radical left – the
nationalist affectation of the regime recently chose to prohibit the use
of the Cuban national symbol in a similar way. In fact, Cuban laws
expressly prohibit it.
Consequently, not even the fiercest prospects of their pack of
repudiators or other similarly-minded halberdiers can counteract the
growing “Uncle Sam” effect on Cuban society, since they are barred from
wearing the Cuban national flag as a way to counteract those involuntary
“traitorous” ones, who, without hiding it, continue to publicly display
their admiration for the crème de la crème of evil capitalism, which, it
was taken for granted, had been banished definitively from Cuba since 1959.
Personally, and begging the pardon of the more ardent and sincere
patriots of fetishistic spirit, I am not tempted to worship symbols,
whether from my own country or from others. Even less would I think to
wear a flag, although those who do so – with the vocation of flagpoles –
does not affect me. It is their right. But, strictly speaking, the flag
is nothing more than a rag that many years ago someone designed and
chose to represent us all and that, ultimately, has been used with the
same zeal and passion for the best as for the worst causes, also
supposedly “of everyone.” Ergo, I’m not excited about the flags, but nor
do I feel myself to be any less Cuban than anybody else.
Nevertheless, a flag, as a symbol of something, evidences the feelings
of the individuals who carry it towards that “something.” That, in the
case of the American flag in Cuba, symbolizes exactly the paradigm of
life of the Cubans who exhibit it. An aspiration on a national scale.
So, for those who want to know what Cubans really think about the US, do
not look for the statements published in the official press or the
boring speeches at events: go to the beach. There, relaxing by the sea,
sheltered by a good umbrella and perhaps savoring a cold beer that
protects them from the strong tropical heat, they will see, parading
before their eyes, the mute response of the Cuban people to the Empire
that attacks them.
Translated by Norma Whiting
Source: “American-Philia” Conquers Cuba / Cubanet, Miriam Celaya –
Translating Cuba –