HAVANA TIMES — I want to begin my post by saying that I am in favor of the release of the four Cubans who continue to serve sentences in US prisons and Alan Gross, currently incarcerated in Cuba.
They are, after all, only victims of the poor relations that exist between two States and of their respective forms of terrorism. My position also stems from a number of opinions regarding prisons I will expound on elsewhere.
On May 9, when Rene Gonzalez renounced his US citizenship and thus effectively invalidated the remainder of his parole, I asked myself: Will they continue to speak of the Cuban Five?
“The 4” is the name of a reggaeton band which most streetwise Cubans know well, and it doesn’t exactly evoke the solemnity of prison life. One associates it, rather, with carefree partying.
When I read the letter in which Gerardo Hernandez (one of the four remaining prisoners) congratulates Rene and declares that the group will continue to be referred to as “the Five”, I tried to find an explanation for this devoid of romanticism. I thought of a number of things, which I would now like to share.
Were they to change the name used to refer to this group of agents, the names of many Internet domains would also have to be changed. Then, all the links to news published in other sites, and so on and so forth.
Wikipedia entries in many different languages, the highly-popular Twitter labels and the names of pages administered by groups with thousands of followers in social networks, would also need to be changed.
Here are a handful of examples:
The thousands of banners, cards and postcards hung at workplaces and schools across Cuba would also need to be thrown out and re-printed were the name to be changed.
Posters, T-shirts, images, symbols, objects showing the clever catchphrase “Obama: Give me Five”, or the suggestive design which situates each of the Five at a different tip of a five-pointed star, would become meaningless and new promotional strategies would have to be conceived.
Briefly put, all of this has cost Cubans and people who support the cause of the Five a lot of money and effort, and it would be a huge strain on the Cuban state to undertake a new, similar investment.
The whole affair could also have a sinister side: since everything in private or State capitalism becomes merchandise, changing the contents of the campaign surrounding the Five would create jobs for designers and printers, and government functionaries could thus continue to leech off economic benefits from these activities.
This is, of course, mere speculation. If this hypothesis were right, the State would again be keeping Cubans in the dark, using the misleading rhetoric that makes it resemble a father who conceals a disquieting truth from a small child.