Direct Publicity

Isbel Diaz Torres

An abbreviated sample of the selections.

If you want to offer your services, there’s nothing better than a Yutong bus.  The backs of the seats of these Chinese buses, with their resistant acrylic, offer an effective surface.

Mattress makers, gas stove repair, tire repairers, photographers, electricians, companions, computer repairers, party room rentals, masseurs, CD movie banks… This is an abbreviated sample of the selections that can be found advertised in our city buses.

Like many people say here, what’s not illegal… is prohibited.  It’s such that the genius of those Cubans who try to get ahead have to appeal to the most mindboggling acrobatics to avoid inspectors and the vigilance of the CDR (the surveillance organizations set up in all neighborhoods).

Most of the services offered are of dubious legality.  It could be that the materials that are used have been taken from State workplaces, or that they’re made by workers during a part of their work day.  The State doesn’t recognize that type of activity, and therefore it’s illegal.  Lastly, there are those who could obtain a license but don’t have the wherewithal to pay the taxes, so they carry out their work on the fringe of the law.

All these people lack opportunities for their publicizing; but that doesn’t deter them.  Again, popular genius seeks alternatives.  Some people are familiar with certain web sites (such as Revolico), where all types of materials, equipment and items are bought and sold: from a house to a high school diploma.

“Saying the truth, neither do I offend nor lie.”

The relatively new Chinese buses that make up the fleet of public transport in the city of Havana also provide needed opportunities.  The multi-functionality of their interior linings (sometimes superfluous) is discovered by the most astute travelers.

In addition to these “utilitarian” functions, the sides of these vehicles occasionally carry loving messages written by adolescents.  Other much more defiant texts also occupy their space, like this one that was expressed on a P2 bus: “Saying the truth, neither do I offend nor lie.”

Some time ago, the delegate [councilperson] from my district got the idea that I could help him make a bulletin with the services that were offered in the community.  This would of course include the services of electricians, plumbers, manicures, hairdressers, Popsicle salespeople… We would have to wait for this proposal to be approved in the town council… but this never happened.

Isbel Diaz

Isbel Diaz Torres: Pinar del Rio and Havana are my cities. I was born in one on March 1, 1976, and I’ve always lived in the other. I am a biologist and poet, though at times I’ve also been a musician, translator, teacher, computer geek, designer, photographer and editor. I’m very non-conformist and a defender of differences – perhaps due to always having been an ever-repressed “model child.” Nothing enthralls me more than the unknown, nature and art; these serve as my sources of mystery and development. A surprising activism has been born in me over the recent period. Though I’m not very sure how to channel it, I feel that it’s a worthy and legitimate energy. Let’s hope I have the discernment to manage it.

2 thoughts on “Direct Publicity

  • Thank you very much for your comment. I’m glad you enjoy it, although I don’t consider my work as “entertaining material”.

  • You are quite a talented writer Torres; I really enjoyed reading your article 🙂
    looking forward to more entertaining material!

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