Talking about Trump at a Havana Barber Shop

by Vicente Morin Aguado

Havana barber shop. File Photo: Caridad

HAVANA TIMES — There are few places where so many opinions come together such as in a barber’s shop here in Cuba. Trump, the White House’s “furious red-faced man”, has become our great enemy thanks to Communist political propaganda, and he is to blame for all of our misfortunes.

To what extent should we be worried about the 45th US president? Reality is one thing; media’s influence both here and there is another.

Far from the friendly image of Obama, his predecessor, this furious and threatening face in Cuba is repeated by popular vision, something which we haven’t got rid of in all of these years because it is hard for us mentally to get outside of this mindset of skin colors which we inherited from Spain: Black, Mulato, Jabao, Blanconazo, Red-faced – Trump – and white? Who knows if someone is really that color.

Yes it’s true, Donald Trump spoke in Miami, ranting, appearing alongside old survivors from the ‘60s, when the option to take on Fidel Castro’s revolution was armed struggle, just like Fidel had done. Another thing we have to assess objectively is just how much this argumentative and unpredictable US president has done up until today. Let’s take a look at concrete facts:

It’s been seven months of what is called the “administration” in the United States, an excellent word which we need to adopt in Cuban political culture, and so far nothing significant has been changed in our country. Nothing which we should attribute to the face of this over-mentioned US president and at the same time billionaire.

Even though his fortune is huge, disproportionate for any fan of equality, he doesn’t figure among the top 20 richest people in the world. Oddly enough, Cuban state-owned media kid around with Trump while they say nothing about China, where a single Communist party also rules and stats from Forbes magazine and The Economist affirm that there are between 108 and 271 Chinese billionaires. That is to say, leaving out mistakes and or exaggerations, there is still no doubt that the concentration of wealth and private property exists in China, which is proclaimed in Cuba to be the political alternative to US mega-exploiters.

Let’s go back to the Havana barber’s shop, people are going bezerk, far from any conversation that doesn’t refer to our everyday reality. A maybe 50-year-old man, waiting to get his hair cut, summarized the matter like this:

“Here, we continue having the same monthly ration of chicken – 1.75 lbs per person – for 30 years now, while tourism continues to grow, it’s already attracting more than 4 million visitors per year. Where does all this money go?  Nothing has changed and this US president isn’t the one to blame.”

A brief analysis reveals that Trump, beyond his media performance, has done very little which implies change with regard to Cuba:

Financial persecution of companies and banks connected to Cuba’s militarized state-owned economy has been a US OFAC practice during many previous administrations.

It was Obama’s decision to repeal the “wet-foot/dry-foot” policy, just before handing over power to Trump, which was clearly a mutual agreement and in line with the governing elite’s anti-immigrant vision in the US, which ended up putting this “red-faced man” in the White House.

In Havana, people keep saying that this is the end of the 1966 Cuban Adjustment Act but that’s not true, it’s just the dangerous incentive to emigrate via extreme channels that has been removed. The paradox here is that the vast majority of these refugees don’t even dare to publicly declare their obvious upset with the government and prefer to risk their lives by jumping onto a raft and cross the sea or undertake a long journey through all of Central America’s jungles.

In Havana, boneless pork meat continues to cost 45 pesos per pound (2,25 USD), malanga, a food which is recommended to wean newborns onto solids, now cost 10 pesos per pound. Half a kilogram of powdered milk means 2.75 USD, which is the equivalent of two days’ wages, according to government statistics. Even for those who have the money, buying chicken at the hard-currency stores is an odyssey. The shortages and long lines increase people’s general anxiety and hoarding is a brutal practice.

So what responsibility does Mr. Trump have for any of this reality?

Just like government political propaganda insists, Washington doesn’t rule in Havana. OK, we are proud of our independence.

It’s the 12th US administration since 1959, a popular song which says that Juana and her sister are the same to me. It’s time to stop our media fights with our neighbor in the north, please, let’s concentrate on our own issues. Up until now, recalling the words of singer Julio Iglesias, in Cuba, life goes on the same.
Vicente Morin Aguado:  [email protected]

25 thoughts on “Talking about Trump at a Havana Barber Shop

  • September 9, 2017 at 2:07 am

    That was not the reason for embargo.

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