The Messages on Cuba’s Billboards

Daisy Valera

Billboard photo by Caridad

In the many trips that I make around the city in our articulated buses, I’ve noticed something that always catches the passengers’ attention: billboards.

These enormous signs are kind of like informational murals.  I think that if anyone is interested in knowing about the current situation in the capital, or even across the entire island, a good way to find out is to read the messages appearing on these signboards.

Billboards provide information about the beginning of the school year, some ballet or theater festival, or anything else, but most frequently you’ll see the ones that seem to be giving people something similar to directives.

Who puts up the billboards? – I don’t know.  It seems that they’re plastered on or changed in midnight hours; because I’ve never run into anyone putting them up who I could ask them to what agency they belong.

However it doesn’t take too much effort to figure out that these are State messages.

Billboard at 26th y 51st Streets. “To have more, it is necessary to begin by producing more.”

A few days ago I began seeing an extremely interesting billboard.  It’s repeated in a ton of locations across the city, where you can read: “To have more, it is necessary to begin by producing more.”

I first thought that I was missing something, or that I was the victim of a not so funny joke.  This is because around in July or August, there began a plan for massive job cuts across the entire island.

Practically all workplaces have been absorbed in this reduction plan that will mean cuts of from between 12 percent to as high as 30 percent of all workers.

Currently, it’s estimated that approximately 1.3 million workers will be laid off.  Even if it was only 300,000 it’s still unknown what will happen to these breadwinners.

So, it seems like those billboards have been transformed from instruments of information into Daliesque canvases.

Are we going to have to produce more to have more – but with less workers?  That’s what the billboards are telling me.

But they don’t tell me anything about the unemployment rate in Cuba, or about the prospects of those soon-to-be sidelined workers.

Nor do they mention how or who will distribute the increased future wealth that will be obtained with less people working.

3 thoughts on “The Messages on Cuba’s Billboards

  • BILLBOARDS ON THE SANTIAGO DE CHILE AIRPORT ROAD advertise cubay ron. the billboards on the thai airport roaDS MUST MAKE MANY MILLIONS ADVERTISING INTERNATIONAL PRODUCTS. naming rights for buildings are worth millions. moscow has a mercedes benz star on a tall building. a huge DHL on a prominent building would get DHL business. and cubanos paquettes! billionaire ted turner started CNN with the income from his father’s billboard business. the thais don’t like visual pollution on the provincial roads and freeways though. cuba’s airports roads are an unexploited gold mine. many international companies would pay for 3 million customers to pitch to. diageo, pernod-ricard spring to mind. car companies etc. casio, sony, NEC.

  • I just love those billboards, as well as the slogans and murals showing artistic and propaganda-esque images of Fidel, Che and Marti painted on buildings in every city I’ve visited. Whenever I’m in Cuba, I always try to take as many pictures as I can. You never seem to see the same one twice. They are a witness of the times, food for thought, a piece of history. And I fear that one day they might disappear, only to be replaced by bland, soporific ads selling all kinds of useless consumer goods.

  • I have always found your article interesting. Please keep it up, school or no school. (btw, what are doing now?)

    About the job cuts. I heard it is about government clerical jobs, or something, isn’t that true? Even first line workers will face cuts too?

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