Fotorreportaje por Janis Hernández

The changes in Cuba are for more socialism.
The changes in Cuba are for more socialism.

HAVANA TIMES — Political propaganda has been accompanying Cubans lives since 1959. Every street, every town, every city, every province, the entire country is covered with signs bearing slogans, with billboards showing the images of government leaders, photographs of revolutionary martyrs, emblems and political jargon.

At the side of the road, over streets and avenues, at public spaces, on buildings, in parks: the entire island is flooded by slogans and icons that appear to remind us the way things work around here.

“Socialism or Death!”, “Freedom for the Five!”, “Ever Onward to Victory!” and a million other similar statements appear to follow us everywhere.

Bote 1977 de Pedro-Arrate-Gonzalez
Bote 1977 de Pedro-Arrate-Gonzalez

Many a time, I can’t help but feel a little like the character in George Orwell’s novel, when he felt that the enormous sign posted everywhere seemed to stare at him from all angles, burning the phrase above it into his mind: “Big Brother is Watching You.”

Luckily, someone had the idea of creating a project titled Arteciudad, which consisted in setting up large, urban billboards with the works of local artists and information about the artist and their work. The idea was to turn Santiago de Cuba into a vast, outdoor gallery.

Of course, this is not the only type of billboard one comes across in the city. Many of the ones set up are found at the entrance to clinics and hospitals, or at street corners, next to a stop sign, offering us a visual balance that passersby are enormously grateful for.

Below we offer you a series of images showing the signs that saturate our city, alternating between the political and the artistic.

Texto: Dariela Aquique

Click on the thumbnails below to view all the photos in this gallery. On your PC or laptop, you can use the directional arrows on the keyboard to move within the gallery. On cell phones use the keys on the screen.


Janis Hernández

Janis Hernandez: I don’t seek to change the world, much less give recipes on how it should or shouldn’t be. I don’t have the gift of oratory or that of the letters. I’m not an analyst or a philosopher. I am just an observer of the things that happen around me and I feel obligated to speak about my country without a muzzle, just write and that’s what I do in my diary.

6 thoughts on “Politics and Art: The Billboards of Santiago de Cuba

  • Predictably, you misquoted Jefferson. The correct quotation is:

    “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”

    There seems to be a large number of falsehoods, misquotations and errors you have gone through life believing are true. Have any of your students ever sued you for malpractice?

    http://wiki.monticello.org/mediawiki/index.php/The_tree_of_liberty

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