HAVANA TIMES — Cuba’s close ties with North Korea, evidenced by the recently confiscated shipment of obsolete war equipment sent to Kim Il Sung’s People’s Democratic Republic for their eventual “repair” and re-shipment to the Caribbean island, has not got in the way of a rapprochement between Cuba and South Korea, at least not culturally speaking.
A Cuban cultural delegation, made up of the pop folk-music duo Buena Fe, the Havana Compas Dance Troupe and other representatives of the island’s music, arts and intellectual scene, are currently touring the Asian nation.
Tour activities are being coordinated by Cuba’s Jose Marti Cultural Society.
The Seoul-based counterpart of the organization, known for promoting the study of Cuba’s independence hero, is none other the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea.
The cultural gatherings in South Korea were covered by well-known Cuban television host Julio Acanda. During the coverage, Acanda showed himself impressed by the level of economic, urban and aesthetic development in the South Korean capital and made mention of US military bases to refer to the recent (and chronic) political conflict between the United States and North Korea.
Relations between Cuba and South Korea aren’t new. South Korea’s excellent products have been present in different sectors of Cuba’s domestic market for a long time.
I do believe, however, that this is the first time we hear this type of praise for the South Korea’s cultural (as well as political and intellectual) life, from an official representative of the Cuban government (it’s no secret that Acanda’s employer, Cuban television, is an official State and Cuban Communist Party institution).
Cuban television portrayed South Korea in friendly terms, expressing sincere affection and an attitude of respectful openness towards this politically and culturally different nation. It conveyed the image of a hard-working, cordial and affable people, of an unmistakably prosperous country.
To date, I believe only the northern half of the Korean peninsula enjoyed such treatment on Cuban television. For those of us who know something about the political situation in Korea, this recent gesture of cultural rapprochement with South Korea cannot but taste of cruel irony.
A month and a half ago, a well-informed source told me that the detention of Cuba’s shipment of war equipment to North Korea may be a pretext for a change in the Cuban government’s policy towards the two Koreas. I wonder if we already witnessing this change?