Flying Dollars in Cuba, an Insult to Dignity
By Francisco Acevedo
HAVANA TIMES – The commotion that broke out last week because US rapper Tekashi 6ix9ine began to throw dollar bills onto Paseo del Prado, from the terrace of the Grand Packard Hotel, represented a bit more than just a viral video.
In the beginning, the Cuban authorities welcomed the musician’s visit because they saw the positive side, like they always do, regarding the propaganda that his visit to the capital might create, and I’m sure they’d planned an itinerary of activities for him to see what they wanted him to see with his own eyes, and then to make naive comments.
There are thousands of cases like this, of people going back to their countries with a distorted idea of ordinary Cubans’ reality (which makes sense if they don’t know any Cubans or if the ones they meet aren’t able to talk frankly with them), and they can spend years praising something that doesn’t exist.
However, in this particular case, we’re dealing with a man from the barrio, and according to what people are saying, the rapper just did something he normally does, known for his eccentric lifestyle. Nor did he give the impression that he wanted to follow the itinerary imposed by his hosts, he did what he wanted to.
Here, it’s a little surprising that the Police who practically never appear when there are similar clashes in lines for chicken, minced meat or cooking oil, showed up in this case to shut down the situation, and then they set up a police patrol to stop it from happening again.
The impudence you could see at that moment is a clear reflection of the critical situation the country finds itself in today, although if this happened anywhere else in the world, I don’t think people would react very differently. But this is exactly why the commotion that broke out is so surprising, even when it is being filmed and broadcast to half the world.
Pro-government media were quick to respond, who went so far as comparing the singer to US marines who used to pass through Havana before 1959, and were stigmatized by a shameful incident that happened 10 years before the triumph of the Revolution, when a group of drunk Marines desecrated the statue of Jose Marti in Havana’s Parque Central. The loathsome incident comes up every now and again in the Cuban press, and it causes the Cuban people to reject the Marines back then, and todays too indirectly.
They also urged him to invest his money in other projects, instead of giving it away like this, as if it were a birthday piñata.
Like what always happens whenever there’s a media event, the Internet just so happened to be shut down across the country, and more and more people are realizing that this isn’t a coincidence at all.
Unease caused by any trifle makes us think about how fragile the system is, that it even feels threatened by a New York rapper, who by the way, tried to cover up the incident on his Instagram account, where he wrote in a video that someone “dressed up like him”, although in a previous recording he also shared on his profile, you can see the crowd from his hotel room.
Everything seems to indicate that he wanted to be on the right side of those who invited him, but the damage had already been done and he shot himself in the foot, because nobody believed his tall tale. Anyone can dress up like him in Cuba, in fact it seems a comedian did in fact do this, but nobody living on the island gives away dollar bills, as far as I know anyway. The copycat would have national pesos in hand, and the straw man argument quickly fell to pieces.
The Ministry of Tourism then supported this last story to clean the visitor’s reputation, who didn’t say a word about what happened and continued on his visit in Havana as if nothing had happened. Statements from eyewitnesses to the foreign press verify that he did in fact throw money into the streets.
Disturbances break out over a lot less every day all over in Cuba, but they’re bothered because the Government wasn’t being honored.
Dignity is the same, however you see it, and it’s just as humiliating for people to fight over a bag of yogurt as it is to fight over a 100 dollar bill. Likewise, isn’t it humiliating for parents to find themselves pretty much forced to steal from their workplaces so they can give their children a mid-afternoon snack? Or that there is fuel for any political act, but there isn’t any fuel so a regular citizen doesn’t have to wait hours for public transport? Or that leaders have no idea about the companies they are managing?
Questions there are aplenty, but none of them began with dollars raining from the sky.
One thought on “Flying Dollars in Cuba, an Insult to Dignity”
Cuban dignity has been scarce for a long time. Everyday incidents of Cuban doctors who feel forced into prostitution or department store workers who sell adulterated shampoo out the backdoor are only two of the dozens of well-known ‘only in Cuba’ behaviors that stain Cuban dignity.
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