by Dawn Gable*
HAVANA TIMES — After the morning Labor Day parade yesterday, celebrating the working class and kicking off the Democratic National Convention, the festivities continued in uptown Charlotte, NC. The crowded streets, closed to traffic, were lined with vendors selling all manner of Obama merchandise. One attendee commented, “This is like being at Walmart!”
Of course there was the usual fare of buttons and T-shirts, being sold by the “Official” campaign as well as by street hawks selling homemade copies. But there were also more creative items such as Michelle and Barack Obama children’s books, Obama air fresheners, and fine art portraits.
Moreover, the royal pair were not the only faces on buttons. Other popular faces were Malcolm X, Nelson Mandela, Che Guevara, Sitting Bull and Rosa Parks, George Jackson, Stokely Carmichael, and Mumia.
Free to all were alternative ideologies being offered up to the wayward Democrats in attendance.
Assertive and ominously dressed in black from head to toe, the US Revolutionary Communist Party approached attendees to assure them that another way is possible. Armed with the “Constitution for the New Socialist Republic in North America, which outlines their vision and spells out “day one” after the Revolution, the group searched for would-be converts.
When asked their opinion on Cuba, one representative explained that Cuba is not a Revolutionary government because it trades on the “imperialist” world market. She went on to list problems with Cuba’s dependence on Russia and other outdated information, revealing that this particular Party member was unqualified to comment on the subject.
When it was pointed out to her that Cuba is much more dependent on Venezuela these days, she complained that Chavez’ approach was also problematic because it relies on selling oil on the international market. However, she was unable to articulate an alternative option. Instead she simply offered up her leader’s book explaining it all.
In contrast, Devaprastha Das waited calmly, dressed in white, in the middle of an intersection passively providing the curious with copies of the Bagavad Gita and informing the locals about the new Krishna temple he is opening in the city.
A similar contrast emerged regarding the military.
Code Pink displayed banners and performed a bit of street theater protesting the US military’s use of killer drones which are notoriously inaccurate and result in many civilian casualties.
Meanwhile, former fighter pilots in Afghanistan were selling scarves made by an Afghan women’s cooperative to fund a project called Flying Scarves that aims to educate and empower women in one of the most repressive corners of the world.
Unfortunately the main concerts of the night were rained out. But not before actor and musician Jeff Bridges explained that he is currently on a tour raising funds to ensure that children in the US do not go hungry. According to Bridges, 16,000,000 children suffer from hunger in one of the wealthiest countries in the world.
Thanks to a local couple I did not go hungry! Vicariously reliving their daughter Andrea’s wonderful trip to Havana after graduating from university and as a gesture to thank the Cuban people, they bought this Havana Times reporter lunch.
(*) Dawn Gable is covering the Democratic Party Convention from Charlotte, North Carolina for Havana Times.
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