Pink Censorship Cuban-style

by Isbel Diaz Torres

Photos: Isbel Diaz Torres and Jimmy Roque Martinez

Pink is the color of paint being used these days to paint over graffiti in the heart of Havana.

HAVANA TIMES, Feb 19 — Given that we live in country marked by so much machismo, I would have expected the island’s censors to have found a color different than pink to cover up the graffiti that’s appearing around the Cuban capital these days.

The task of detecting and painting over all of those artistic and philosophical expressions that daring youth have attempted to capture on the walls of Havana has started to give the city this a colorful atmosphere.

The obsolete and overly direct expressions that were written on walls during the “Special Period” crisis have now given way to well-honed metaphors and penetrating symbolism, many evidencing a tremendous sense of humor and critical awareness.

Graffiti in Havana.

In this new phase, people have returned to re-coloring those pink-painted surfaces, though now with roguish winks and smiles, mischievous eyes and other graceful figurines that have recently begun to adorn Linea Avenue in Vedado, for example.

“You cover up out my things and I’ll cover up yours,” reposted the tagger “El Sexto” in a clear and direct manner.

The works exhibit wide diversity: from the mysterious signature of the most famous graffitist in the city, which appears in the most unimaginable places, to a crying blue-colored Marx who begs for us to unite; or a television set whose radiating waves are attempting to cloud our judgement.

The sides of buses, a public telephone booth, bathrooms in cafes, sides of houses – any space is used to display a nostalgic work or a piece of criticism.

In telling the truth I don't offend or lie.

It’s a shame I don’t have a photo of the image that young graffiti artists from the outlying Santa Fe community painted in the middle of their Fifth Avenue. It was their way of expressing their plea for “SOStainable Development.”

At least here I can show the whitewashing labor they were ordered to perform by the police (it seems that pink paint hasn’t reached as far as Santa Fe yet).

I think that an anarchistic sensibility lies behind these public statements. Let’s hope this allows our pink city to be painted with colors other than the simple black and white ones that some seek to impose.

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One thought on “Pink Censorship Cuban-style

  • To paraphrase Chairman Mao: “Let a thousand Banksy’s bloom, let a thousand Bastiats contend!” Seems to be that the pink paint-overs are just made for accentuating whatever script is painted over them. If the authorities are going to paint over, then they should at least match the colors with what was previously painted on the walls.

    Incidentally, to see some really creative art installations on walls around Cuba, punch in “Habana en Concreto” on YouTube.

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