Chong Chon Gang, Cuba y Palestine

Yanelys Nuñez Leyva

HAVANA TIMES — “As a gesture of solidarity with the Palestinian people, Cuban artist Luis Manuel Alcantara made a gift to this nation through that country’s embassy in Havana, consisting of a group of home-made weapons collected from different neighborhoods around Havana. With this gesture, Alcantara expresses the fraternal spirit that has characterized the Cuban government in its struggle for world peace.”

The above lines make up the press the note this artist has been circulating through different means (e-mails, social networks and other digital fora) in recent days.

The series, titled Chong Chon Gang, stems from the first anniversary of the detention of the North Korean vessel of the same name, on which undeclared Cuban armaments were found.

However, one of the artist’s major preocupations is the Isreali-Palestinian conflict.

The performance begins with the purchase of weapons from young people living in marginal Havana neighborhoods, known in the underground as “injectors” (in reference to the fact these are assembled from car pieces). These are used as weapons in some neighborhoods around the Cuban capital.

The work is then developed in two parallel directions. One is the sending of an e-mail to the Palestinian Embassy in Havana, offering a donation of these weapons, and the publication of the press note in all conceivable spaces.

Though these actions may be interpreted as pro-war at first glance or upon reading the press note in question, they are exactly the opposite of this.

When we look at the title of the work and see the photos of the makeshift (but nonetheless dangerous) weapons, we glimpse the true essence of the piece.

With a tongue-in-cheek tone and taking advantage of the broad scope of the media, Luis Manuel Alcantara risks divulging fictional information that, though clearly part of an artistic project, can well turn against him, as the possession of any type of weapon is illegal in Cuba.

Do the “injectors” in question actually work?

I am sure the artist would not answer this question and tell me that the important thing is the artistic intent behind the weapons.

The weapons are merely a means of attacking pre-conceived notions and violent attitudes and actions.

Yanelys Nuñez

Yanelys Nuñez Leyva: Writing is to expose oneself, undress before the inquisitive eyes of all. I like to write, not because I have developed a real fondness for nudity, but because I love composing words, thinking of stories, phrases that touch, images that provoke different feelings. Here I have a place to talk about art, life, me. In the end, feeling good about what you do is what matters; either with or without clothing.

One thought on “Chong Chon Gang, Cuba y Palestine

  • Is this artist is being cheekily ironic? He is buying home-made guns, “injectors” from gangsters in Cuban slums and announces he intends to give them to the Palestinian people “…a gift to this nation through that country’s embassy in Havana”. Is this an example of Magic Realism? There is no country called “Palestine”, nor is it a nation in any rational sense of the word.

    Meanwhile, the government of Cuba has provided money, weapons and training to an assortment of Palestinian terrorist groups over the past 5 decades. North Korean engineers are reported to have helped both Hezbollah and Hamas dig their tunnels use to smuggle weapons and carry out terrorist attacks.

    The Palestinian people need foreign aid, (food, medical care, decent educations(), but one thing they don’t need are yet more guns, weapons and bombs. Their lives have been ruined by the armed terrorists running the West Bank and Gaza.

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