Cuba: Moving Backwards

Veronica Fernandez

veronica2HAVANA TIMES — While the common Cuban is beating his or her head trying to figure out what they will throw together for dinner tonight, the Ernest Hemingway Fishing Tournament, a competition that has been held in honor of the renowned American author for many years now, is underway in Havana’s municipality of Cojimar. I feel that, more than paying tribute to Hemingway, the contest is an insult to his memory.

Like most things in Cuba, the tournament had a good start but, in the course of time, has been degraded more and more. I say this for many reasons.

Today, you won’t come across the game that used to be put up on display at the end of  tournaments. You won’t even see anything remotely resembling a fishing vessel.

What you will see, instead, is a house painter touching up Hemingway’s bust, in a public gathering that combines entertainment for children with dispensers of beer and hard liquor.

veronica3What has this event been turned into? As is the case with many other so-called popular festivities in Cuba, today it is dominated by stands offering alcoholic beverages, a few junk-food kiosks and ear-splitting reaggeton that assails your ears, makes any normal or pleasant conversation impossible and forces people to shout.

There are some who enjoy these gatherings, rather inaptly called “festivities”. There are some who wouldn’t be caught dead in one. And then there are some, like me, who go for a little a while, thinking it could be different from last year’s and, struck by the crude reality, immediately leave.

The “fun and games”, as Cubans say, turned the Cojimar park, located east of the Havana Bay area, into a rather depressing setting, in every sense of the word. Not far from this place, in front of a bakery, there was another “spectacle” I was also able to capture with my camera.

veronica1More than a month ago, a state construction brigade tore open a good stretch of road to conduct some repair work there. You would think the aim was rather to mess up the street, for I have yet to see the road back in working order again.

There is no shortage of such examples, which reveal the extent to which Cuban society has deteriorated.

I am convinced these stark contrasts are not accidental, that there is a deliberate effort to keep people entertained, to make robots of them, to keep them from thinking, analyzing or reflecting on their lives, to keep them from seeing beyond, from noticing what our lives have become and, heaven forbid, developing the capacity to think critically.

We are going backwards in time, journeying back to the bud, as Alejo Carpentier would have put it. This regression is gnawing away more and more of our integrity every day. In Cuba, Darwin’s theory about the evolution of the species is proven wrong again and again.

Veronica Fernadez

Veronica Fernandez: I was born in the town of Regla, on the other side of Havana Bay. Over the years, many people from Regla have gone to live in Cojimar, fleeing the contamination from the petroleum refinery in Regla. That's what my family did when I was just four years old. Since I was a little girl I have been drawn to the arts and letters. Poetry and narrative writing are my favorites. I had the good fortune to study philology, a branch of the human sciences dealing with language and literature, at the University of Havana with top notch professors. As a Capricorn, I adore organization, people who are mature, the romantic things in life and the lack of self-interest that is the backbone of these times. I enjoy our typical Cuban food, (white rice, black beans, pork and yucca with garlic sauce) and also Italian food. I also like chocolate and drinking a mojito (rum cocktail) in the historic center of my city.

20 thoughts on “Cuba: Moving Backwards

  • May 17, 2013 at 4:16 pm

    There is many differnt kinds of grass. Or should they eat sea-grass? Maybe Cuba should cultivate sea-cows?

  • May 17, 2013 at 4:15 pm

    Luis: The same thing happened in Europe. On top of it the “salesmen”, alltogether right wing governments , of course put their little pocket money for having sold the state firms to some of their friends on very lucrative banc accounts in Liechtenstein and Switzerland. Just in my country about 32 billions (!!!) of euros.

  • May 17, 2013 at 4:11 pm

    I guess it`s Castro`s fault again.

  • May 17, 2013 at 3:18 am

    Actually with the recent economic reforms and the rise of private cattle farms DROPPED the production of milk.

    This is the typical neoliberal ‘consensus’ we were told in the 90’s – that everything that’s Statal is less productive and the private sector – from ‘magic’ I suppose – is more efficient. We in Latin America swallowed this myth and sold out our most productive State firms at banana prices.

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