I just came back from the supermarket. I have to admit that my experience in the last year hadn’t prepared me for the shortages I came across this afternoon.
The private gym boom in Cuba began in 2010, like many other small businesses did. Even though it seemed to be a fleeting trend, “something that would soon pass” according to some people’s predictions, almost a decade later, these spontaneous initiatives have shown the impact that they have had on society.
“Law, yes! Abuse, no!” chanted hundreds of people marching with orange ribbons, signs and dogs, protesting animal abuse, on Sunday April 7th.
2018 was a bad year, according to some self-employed workers in Cuba who we regularly consult for our features. The government experimented and faltered and that led to a high level of uncertainty among private sector workers and the many others who aspire to working on their own.
Even though Decree 349 was ushered in like many things are in the Official Gazette, it has created intense debates in different spaces for being a document that seeks to regulate the country’s cultural policy in an explicit way. Since November 20th 2018, a group of artists and creators have been sending a dossier around which summarizes their actions to hold a public debate about the new law and the messages that have been sent to the country’s main authorities.
The inclusion of Article 68 in Cuba’s new draft Constitution seems to be the only thing people are talking about during the popular consultation process. The chance to recognize marriage as the union between two people, regardless of their gender, has led to the most repetitive speeches at every assembly (if we go by what official media reports anyway).
People say that when Fidel Castro saw his friend Rene Portocarrero go white as a sheet in the face of a horde of enraged speeches that were taking place at the first National Congress of Education and Culture in 1971, he kindly asked Alfredo Guevara to please get him out of there. I don’t know if this story is true, although I do think it’s likely.
On Monday April 30th, an order was given to close down the gym. Taking to the street to do their workouts, like they do every day, was how the owner and the club members chose to respond to this injustice.