HAVANA TIMES – The new message that the Cuban regime considers subversive is not even pronounceable. DPEPDPE, an acronym for “de pinga el país de pinga este” [which roughly translates as “fuck this fucking country”], has become the most used hashtag by activists on the island in recent days, especially since the government launched a campaign against it, considering it a serious threat.
On May Day last week, several citizens denounced on networks that State Security had carried out an operation to confiscate the T-shirts which have popularized the motto, accompanied by a cartoon doll with a childish outline, an open mouth and a resigned gesture, a garment which some activists were inspired to wear at the official march that day if they were forced to participate in their workplaces.
At the same time, Etecsa included the acronyms in its long list of censored words when sending an SMS, among which are “dictatorship,” “human rights,” “free elections” and even “Psiphon” and “VPN,” in addition to 14ymedio.
Deisy, one of the buyers of the T-shirt who was questioned by the political police, tells 14ymedio that she bought it for 350 pesos through the online store Échate Esto, dedicated to printing garments with different designs, although “there were several businesses selling that same T-shirt” and “there was someone who announced on Twitter that he was printing up to 175” of them.
The agents had a list with buyers of the garment. “I wouldn’t know if they got the list because they have the cell phone of someone from that brand or if they themselves provided them with contacts as a way of cooperation, because they are investigating them,” details the young woman, who says that they released her when they were convinced that “I did not know anything.”
“It was the clumsiness with which the regime reacted that elevated the meme,” says Deisy. “Regardless of whether or not someone called to put it on for May Day. Because that would have been a small action and of little or no consequence.”
In the private channels of Échate Esto, the design of that T-shirt has been announced at least since November, and it has not been uncommon to see images of young people dressed in the garment while on the bus or in a public place on social networks, but it was as of this last week that the matter has gone viral.
To circumvent censorship, activists have simplified the campaign in recent days and, instead of including #dpepdpe in their messages, they simply use the doll that accompanies the T-shirt, an original drawing by a designer who calls himself Flork of Cows [in English in the original].
The artist already boasts in his networks of being “the home of the characters that angered the Cuban government.” This Wednesday, he tweeted: “Dear new Cuban followers, thank you for your kindness in recent days. I love your drawings and I love the media-characters [yes, the doll is a media] that you are using as your profile image.”
Flork was referring, for example, to the “portraits” that the visual artist Julio Llopiz-Casal has made of numerous activists, journalists and other ordinary citizens, using that character as a basis.
“I immediately realized that it was very versatile and very effective,” Llopiz-Casal tells this newspaper, saying that he had already seen how many network users were modifying Flork’s drawing for their messages.
He began to do it almost by chance, quickly, with a phone application, at the request of a friend, identified on the networks as Guajiro Cubano, and from there, an avalanche of requests came, such as those of Saily González, Fernando Almeyda, Daniela Rojo, Luz Escobar “and even people I don’t know at all.” Although the demand exceeds his capacity, he says, he tries to tell everyone that yes, he is happy to interact in this way with other Cubans.