HAVANA TIMES — The advance of Halloween as a celebration in Havana has not gone unnoticed by the critics of the ruling Communist Party of Cuba. Pedro de la Hoz, cultural columnist for the official Granma newspaper, expressed concern about the costume celebrations. What bothered De la Hoz most was the use of several state facilities for such “neocolonal” parties.
The following is a report from Café Fuerte:
SENIOR OFFICIAL SLAMS STATE INSTITUTIONS FOR CELEBRATING HALLOWEEN
by Cafe Fuerte
The cultural critic of the official newspaper Granma, Pedro de la Hoz, is very upset over recent Halloween festivities and the celebrating of a Pan American cheerleading championship in Havana.
In an article titled “Oddities not so rare,” De La Hoz, who is also vice president of the Writers and Artists Association of Cuba (UNEAC), harshly criticized the state institutions that lent themselves to promoting these events, carried away by the logic of the market and the assimilation of foreign “neocolonial” influences.
“What’s strange, and in my opinion disturbing, is that such practices are promoted at institutions whose social mission involves preserving our identity and values,” wrote the official critic. “On G street you can dress in costume on October 31 or any day as long as it doesn’t violate the the basic norms of coexistence. But in the Pink Room, the Jardines de la Tropical dance venue, the 1830 club, the Diablo Tuntun club and the Red Room at the Capri Hotel, at Artex or Egrem, or the management of any tourist or recreational facility, should allow for the promotion of such events.”
De la Hoz further asks: “Why be swayed by the logic of the market or the uncritical assimilation of neocolonial foreign influences?”
Surprised by pumpkins
The columnist was surprised that on Friday October 31, in parts of Havana people dressed as pumpkins or other characters of what he called “the American media industry.”
A day later, the Sports City complex hosted the IV Pan American Cheerleading Championships, sponsored by the Cuban Sports Insitute (INDER), which also drew criticism from De la Hoz. The columnist said that colleagues who reported on the event said it was like attending a half time show of an NBA game or “havING been transported to a community of Massachusetts or New England” instead of being on G Street or the Jardines de la Tropical.
“Supposedly we should build an altar to cultural diversity, and mutual influences and plural communication. But that’s not the case. The hegemony of the United States culture industry imposes habits, tastes, ways of thinking and acting, in a persistent but subtle way,” said De la Hoz.
The gradual emergence of costumes and Halloween parties in Cuban society has been questioned before both by intellectuals and ordinary citizens, arguing that it has become a celebration for children of the privileged with greater access to foreign currency.
Regarding the cheerleading tournament, the journalist recalled that support from the stands must assume characteristics that correspond to the national character, such as congas in stadiums or the hype from Armandito in the baseball games at Havana’s Lationamericano Stadium.
But what most irritated De la Hoz was that on the way to the sports complex and near the Tropical Gardens some young people wore clothes with the US flag on them.
Although the writer admitted that everyone is free to copy the habits of others, he criticized the passive attitude of Cuban society to such displays.
The barrage of criticism from Granma occurs a few days after the holding a forum on cultural consumption in Cuba, organized by the UNEAC and the Hermanos Saiz Association, in which they questioned the wide dissemination of “the package”, a popular alternative distribution of audiovisual products.