By Francisco Acevedo
HAVANA TIMES – Nothing sent social media awhirl this week more than the defiant photos posted by Sandro Castro, the grandson and heir to the Fidel dynasty, in which he gallivanted the good life he was giving his cat.
Sandro even made Papucho – that’s the cat’s name – an Instagram page, when thousands of Cubans are suffering because they don’t have any megabytes and lots of them are always asking friends and relatives to top them up from abroad. But not Sandro, he has megabytes for him and his cat.
If not having megabytes isn’t enough for people to be outraged, then the photos the young man posted of the fridge where he keeps food for his cat will definitely get them riled up.
Nobody saw catfish fillets or chicken bones in there, of course not! There was milk and cans of tuna, as well as other cans of ready-made food specially made for cats, dogs, etc.
Having a pet in Cuba is almost a luxury, because if it’s hard work just to feed people, you can imagine how hard it is to feed animals. The vast majority live off the few leftovers we might have after a family dinner, basically rice and bones. Only pets belonging to the self-employed and the well-to-do are able to afford to eat chicken, but I doubt anyone, even with a decent income, will splash out on buying a can of tuna for their cat.
Of course, I don’t need to tell you that the income of this owner isn’t legitimate or earned, because we’re still wondering what it is Sandro studied exactly, or where he got the capital from to become the businessman he says he is. We all know the answer.
This isn’t the first time the young man has made a fool of his family, as it was about a year ago that he appeared with a swollen face because his grandmother, Dalia Soto del Valle, slapped him for having uploaded a video on social media in which he bragged about a super car that only “children of” can have in Cuba.
This young man’s incontinence is chronic, and he needs to always be in the spotlight. I have no doubts they pulled him by the ear again, but he’ll do the same thing again, because he can’t live without showing off his privilege. How he must have suffered these past few months when he was under the radar!
Artists and censorship
Something else that went viral was intellectual Gustavo Arcos’ speech at a meeting of artists about the censorship of the Fito Paez documentary that I wrote about last week, when he recognized the State can intervene like a defender on issues about racism, gender or sex discrimination, fascism and other social scourges, but not because an artist is showing a negative aspect of Cuban reality.
“We all need to start to be aware of our role as citizens, and the power we have. The (repressive) apparatus has made you feel guilty over the past 60 years, it’s made you feel miserable, like you’re crossing a line, and you begin to be suspicious of yourself. How is it possible that people are still expressing what they feel in a whisper after 60 years of a revolutionary change that was meant to be for better? It’s paranoia, one of the Cuban Government’s great successes,” said Arcos.
He ended his speech at the meeting, which was held a month ago, with the opinion that filmmakers shouldn’t be afraid and need to stand firm to defend their audiovisual creations. It’s worth pointing out that before he began to speak, Ramon Samada, the president of the Government-led Cuban Institute of Cinematographic Art and Industry (ICAIC) said: “We mustn’t record, we mustn’t film. Please, you mustn’t record in a meeting.”
Going back to the expert in criticizing the media, who used to regularly appear on national TV a decade ago, posted a powerful allegation on his Facebook page a few days ago.
“Board members and officials make mistakes, nobody is perfect but there is an entire system, a model of order and command that has been upholding this institutional violence that we’ve just witnessed again, for far too long,” he said as well as other things, referring to Samada.
Arcos also came forward in late 2021 when a group of students from the University of Arts of Cuba (ISA) defended him after he was accused again of “defaming” the Revolution, even though he later lost his job as a professor at this institution.
Yet, it’s precisely the censor who is really funding cinematographic projects on the whole. Nobody is going to give money to be criticized.
A plea from Villa Clara
Social media was also rocked by a mother’s protest in Villa Clara in front of the provincial Party’s office, demanding a decent home for her and her children. These are still isolated incidents, but they are becoming more and more frequent, and at some point, the people who are taking this brave step because they are stifled by their situation will receive the support of those who might be slightly better off, but also have dozens of basic needs they need to sort out.
I want to end this article with a bit of humor, which we also need in life, because there was an interesting TV report about bamboo bikes that are being produced in Cuba.
For starters, even though this is a form of transport revered by ecologists in the first world that many people use voluntarily because they are socially aware, in Cuba bikes are a synonym of low purchasing power.
It was the salvation of hundreds of thousands of Cubans during the terrible Special Period in the 1990s, but I’m sure that our President Miguel Diaz-Canel and Vice-President Manuel Marrero have no idea how to ride anymore, if they ever did as children that is.
That said, it’s sad that Cuba can’t even guarantee this form of transport in its traditional form and is turning to wood as a palliative.
With the potholes that exist all over the country, I’m not sure how long a bike like this could last when bikes with metal frames suffer. It’s best not to think about accidents, because a broken frame in the middle of a street with traffic could have disastrous consequences for the bike rider, who I guess can’t be obese or be carrying a lot of weight, and those around them.
In short, with all the bad things the Cuba is suffering from today, the COVID-19 pandemic being the least of them; at the end of the day, Sandrito’s cat is living a better life that most Cubans.