HAVANA TIMES — Among the many believable characters in the recently released Cuban film Conducta – a film that has already begun to receive international recognition – we find one that is especially realistic.
I am referring to Igancio, the presumed father of the main character, a kid named Chala – a man of strong character whose relationship with the community that surrounds him and the child who could well be his son are marked by an aggressiveness that is questionable but not devoid of elements that would allow us to call it consistent.
Ignacio likes to call things by their name and has a very clear idea of everyone’s private interests. He makes a point of looking after his own and protecting “his” territory.
He is not indifferent to Chala, but his concept of manhood and of what’s right makes him mold the child in his own image, that is, prepare him for a life where one’s independence depends on our ability to survive a war governed by the so-called “law of the jungle” and to endure a constant struggle where it’s every man for himself.
For Ignacio, to be “one’s own boss” involves the ability to make money without any apparent violence against others.
This skill betrays a system of values in which one can make the most of the mistakes and shortcomings of others, of the twists and turns of fate and the life and pain of animals raised expressly to kill or be killed in clandestine and cruel fights, staged for rowdy men who enjoy making bets and care little about the blood and tears of those who suffer.
Chala runs into this unsettling reality head on, and its cruelty leads him to cry and throw the money Ignacio earns “honestly”, raising dogs to be torn to shreds in fights, in his face.
That reality, however, isn’t called Ignacio.
Igancio’s violent, calculating, blood-drenched, money-making face is merely the (human) face of that reality, a mere palpable hypostasis of the evil at work there.
It is an evil governed by an iron-clad logic, reason and faith.
It is an evil that inhabits the bodies fitted with human faces that serve as masks, bodies that are not necessarily filled with hate but that become tireless producers of hatred and misery – an evil known as capitalism.
In Cuba, there are those who, wishing to continue living off people’s sweat, want more Ignacios among us and for the personal dose of Ignacio we all carry with us to grow.
A few of these desiring beings, I believe, are people of a certain naivety, like Chala, who one day becomes aware of the true human (or animal) cost of the “honest” money Ignacio put in his hands.
In most cases, unfortunately, these people are dominated by a cynical spirit which pushes them to simply look after their own skin, pockets and power.
The girl I went to see Conducta with had to look the other way when the highly profitable death of a fight-dog was shown on screen.
Her tears are what give me the strength not to give up our struggle, a decision that some may perhaps consider an expression of childish naivety.
The capitalist economic regime and bureaucratic totalitarianisms that sustain it here, there and everywhere are manifestations of death. That is why they deserve to die – so that Cuba and the world can be reborn.