... So it shouldn't be a surprise that L.A. artist Shepard Fairey, in his design for a Sen. Barack Obama poster, looked to Korda's Che. Fairey's Obama is not wearing a beret, and he's looking left instead of right, but his face tilts at the same angle as Che's. His jaw is set with the same willfulness and strength, and he too is gazing recognizably upward into the future (hasta la victoria siempre . . . ). Obama's eyes, though, are filled not with righteous anger but with vague and lofty hope...... Che means change
The above quote comes from an LA Times article analyzing the marketing of the “Che brand” as a money making enterprise.
I’m obviously not a fan of the Argentine. I lived through the repercussions of his delusions and maniacal social ideas.
Che’s smirk will forever be ingrained in my mind as a cynical representation of evil.
When reading the LA Times article, I was struck by two things.
One, was the lack of historical perspective of the real Guevara even though the author, who boasts of having bought his 3 year old niece a Che plush doll for Christmas, (I guess they were fresh out of Hitler and Mao dolls), ridicules Che T-shirt wearers for not knowing who the man really was. Then again, that would require objectively judging Che’s life. That’s too counterculture for counterculture LA latte-leftists.
The other, was the underlying disdain for the Free Market system that desecrates the memory of the sainted Che by exploiting his image since the Argentine would have considered it blasphemous.As Ivan de la Nuez, a Barcelona, Spain, museum director quoted in Ziff and Lopez's film puts it, "Capitalism devours everything . . . even its worst enemies." Che has proved an abundant meal.
Those heartless, greedy capitalists. They have “diluted” the essential Che-the Che-Essence, if you will:Rebels and activists the world over still take inspiration from Guevara. But the image has lost something; Che's face on a poster in 1968 isn't quite the same thing as it is on a mousepad 40 years later. Perhaps it is precisely that loss -- the shedding of Che's radicalism and ideological rigor -- that renders him so supremely marketable today. Things are not going well these days. Kids don't want revolution so much as, um, something different
Thank God. The original blood-red undiluted Che-Essence reeked of executions without trials, Stalinism and concentration camps for real Communists, Queers and Catholics.
But, fear not rebels without a clue. Even the diluted Che-Essence still stands for change. And there’s a candidate that’s been doused in this change water. He’s the torch bearer of change . Obama is not wearing a beret, and he's looking left instead of right, but his face tilts at the same angle as Che's. His jaw is set with the same willfulness and strength, and he too is gazing recognizably upward into the future (hasta la victoria siempre . . . ). Obama's eyes, though, are filled not with righteous anger but with vague and lofty hope.
Is that what happens when you dilute hate? You get righteous anger and lofty hope?
31 May 2008
30 May 2008
The man says you there's no individual salvation without collective salvation.
I've heard that before.
Was it at church?
No, wait it was when I was a little kid...in Cuba
Get ready to hitch your wagon to the Obamalution...
It’s because you have an obligation to yourself. Because our individual salvation depends on collective salvation. Because thinking only about yourself, fulfilling your immediate wants and needs, betrays a poverty of ambition. Because it’s only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you realize your true potential and discover the role you’ll play in writing the next great chapter in America’s story
29 May 2008
Oil prices are inflated because of speculators selling dollars and putting their money in oil which makes the dollar go down which makes the speculators sell more dollars to buy more oil which…well you get the idea…buy a Vespa.
But Rice? Did the rest of the world all of sudden start eating rice and beans? As far as I can tell there are no serious production problems and crops seem to be at average levels, yet rice prices, like the prices of most food, continue to rise-tripled in recent months. Supposedly due to demand as if everyone got the munchies all at once.
For poor countries, like Haiti, these developments are devastating. For Cuba, it is dangerous. It’s not like Cubans can take out their new cell phone and call a distributor in the States or Viet-Nam or India and buy a few tons. There’s only one importer and one seller in Cuba’s command economy, Raúl.
So if Raúl wants to continue his honeymoon with the international press, he can’t afford to have a visible hunger crisis in the streets that even the sympathetic fans of the tyranny can’t look the other way from. Shortages and skinny, under nourished citizens are admired and even idolized in studies, but food riots aren’t.
So to keep his PR machine well oiled and enough rice in the bellies of his captive workforce, Raúl has bought enough rice to supply the population for their monthly rations for the remaining 7 months of 2008.
From the Sun Sentinel:
Pedro Alvarez, president of the socialist island's food import company Alimport, told state television news that 18 ships, stocked mostly with Vietnamese rice, were in Cuban ports, waiting to be unloaded.
So what about for the future, if Raúl makes it that long:
Trade agreements with Vietnam assured a steady supply of rice for the next few years, Alvarez said.
28 May 2008
Whenever something related to Cuba or a Cuban happens, I’m usually asked to express my expert opinion.
Today, a friend went to the dentist for a cleaning. According to my friend, the hygienist was a rude, cell phone talking, salsa singing, rough handed, technologically challanged Hispanic with a bad accent that made her feel like Dustin Hoffman in the Marathon Man.
My princess friend got what she considered a brutal, rough and bloody cleaning. While she was complaining to the staff about the hygienist’s technique, she was told that the hygienist was a Dentist back in Cuba and had been relegated to working as a Dental Hygienist because the U.S. doesn’t recognize a Cuban D.D.S. degree.
At that point, as the official spokesman for my people, it became my mission to field questions about Cuban dentistry.
I’m actually not the best person to ask about Cuban dentistry since when I was a kid a my dad took me to get a molar pulled and a revolutionary teeth puller extracted the wrong molar-the one without the gaping hole of a cavity. That is why my parents never agreed for me to get a much recommended tonsillectomy until we got to the States.
But anyway, my friend asked me what Cuban dentistry was like. Was it as primitive and brutal as she experienced?
Now, I could have told her that Cuban Doctors are stuck practicing and diagnosing using instruments and technology form the middle of the last century.
I could have told her that she had been privileged to have had a cleaning performed by a real dentist.
I could have told her about my Dentist in NJ, Dr. Arias, who worked out of his house in Union City while he did his "revalida" and later opened an office across Holy Family on 35th st. with his wife as an assistant. And how his wife, who had also been a Dentist in Cuba, was the quickest and painless novacaine shots ever.
I could have told her that the poor “hygienist” was doing a job that was much beneath her education and skill level so she could make a living and she probably got her fired.
I could have told her not to be such a candy ass and butch up.
But I didn’t.
I suggested, in jest, that maybe the Cuban dentist had worked in one of Castro’s gulag on jailed dissidents…
…and then gave her the phone number for a Cuban Gynecologist in Hialeah.
27 May 2008
But first, she had Carlos Alberto Montaner on to discuss the possibility of the Cuban Parliament asking for his extradition to Cuba to be tried as a terrorist?
Now, I was on the phone and hung it up, pronto. That caught my ear.
Montaner told Maria Elvira that Lázaro Barredo, the Director of Granma, and a member of the Cuban Parrotment proposed that the Law for for the Protection of National Independence of 1999 A.K.A. the “Muzzle Law” or Law 88 be strengthened to include “those individuals that receive money from a foreign power to subvert the internal order”. He also urged the extradition of Cubans living abroad that have open cases with the regime and were able to escape.
Let’s put aside that to "subvert" Cuba’s "internal order" is to fight for freedom, which is a right protected by the International Declaration of Human Rights and that fighting for one’s guaranteed freedom form a tyranny, as a last resort, cannot be considered terrorism under international covenants that Cuba has signed.
What’s this all about?
It’s about fear.
The regime is scared of the suddenly visible and audible dissident movement and it is the reason behind last week's dog and pony shows of accusations and press conferences to later justify a possible crackdown on the dissidents. All out of fear.
OK. You’re saying…what this have to do with Montaner?
Well, the regime has accused Montaner of managing Yoani Sanchez’s blogging "career" through his connections with the Spanish Newspaper El Pais. The regime, according to Montaner, has accused him of being behind Yoani’s Ortega and Gasset journalism Prize and her inclusion in Time Magazine’s 100 most Influential People List as well as "financing" her popular blog Generation Y.
Ostensibly, what the regime is doing is spinning a web of lies to trap Yoani in with a “terrorist” , who by the way, escaped a Cuban prison when he was 17 , who now lives in Spain and was the object of a Granma full page "expose" so that they can charge her under the newly strengthened Law 88 and Muzzle her.
24 May 2008
One of the items that the “shoppers” are looking to buy is Indian manufactured cars.
The Tata Nano. The world’s cheapest car. A glorified two cylinder riding lawnmower with an aluminum shell that can go in reverse.
Of course, it will cost more to ship the Nano to Cuba than the $2,500 that the car is expected to retail for.
But it will look great next to the plastic petro garden sheds that the regime is starting to build. Hell, one of these Nano babies fits inside of of Sam's Club Garden Sheds. I mean, that's what most people but inside their garden sheds-their lawn mower. Maybe thay can sell the Nano-Garage included for $3,500.
As Raúl starts to loose his grip on his precarious power, Cuba will probably start to partner with companies like Tata to manufacture products like the Nano for its population and for Latin America and the Caribbean. Raúl has already started down the road of making small concessions to the Castro dogma in order keep the population from revolting. This of course, raises expectations, which leads to more concessions, etc.
I look forward to the Nanos to be everywhere on the island just to see the interesting names that Cubans will come up with for them. The tourists from Canada and Europe however, may be disappointed because even a small improvement to the island’s dismal transportation problems will interfere with the quaint Soviet style nostalgic ambiance that attracts so many of them to the island.
22 May 2008
About two years ago, I was shopping at a local Sam’s Club in Sunrise. When I got to the garden section, I went nuts. Right in the middle they had a gigantic green plastic storage shed with windows, doors and even a vent.
I started screaming to my companion “Oh My God!, If they only had these in Cuba!” “This is like a condo- a palace for poor Cubans with no shelter!” “How much are these?!?”
My companion, who was born here, thought I was kidding and was trying to get calm me down and get me to lower my voice. People were staring. But I wasn’t kidding. I know that for many Cubans a plastic storage shed would be better and safer than where they live now. “Don’t be silly”, they said. “People can’t live in plastic houses!”
Yesterday, I came across a Sun Sentinel article which claims that Cuba is planning on building “petrohouses” to ease the severe home shortage.
The minute I read this, the first thing that I thought of was one of those monopoly houses-they’re plastic and tiny. Then I thought of a dollhouse. And then I remembered the Green Plastic Garden Shed from Sam’s Club.Hoping to ease a national housing shortage, Cuba said it will build 14,000 plastic homes each year at a petrochemical plant being constructed with financial assistance from Venezuela.The homes, about 753 square feet each, will be made mostly with polyvinyl chloride produced by the new plant. It is scheduled for completion in September and will be part of the recently modernized Cienfuegos oil refinery, project director Julian Alonso told Prensa Latina, the state news agency.
Immediately, I jumped on my Comcastic bandwith information portal with power boost- the internet- and went to the virtual Sam’s Club to search for the garden shed.
Here is a smaller model. It has been upgraded. It’s now “Taupe and Bronze”, not green plastic garbage can green.
So basically, the regime is going to be housing Cubans in a plastic garden shed that’s about 6 times as large as this one and not as pretty:
Still, it's better than these "homes" in a section of my Havana neighborhood from a photo posted at Secretos De Cuba:Like I told my life partner at Sam's Club. For some Cubans a garden shed would be a palace.
It's interesting to note that the Castro brothers only build homes for the Cuban people when someone else is paying whether its the old Soviet style and paid for tenements in Alamar or these Chavez subsidized garden sheds.
20 May 2008
Each announced change was another little white flag admitting that the revolution and its leader had been wrong all along.
I came across this article over the weekend –another white flag
According to the article, the regime has admitted that the new man that Fidel set out to create not only did not materialize, but the citizen that resulted from their oppression and indoctrination is incapable of contributing to modern society.
Their solution is to “prepare its citizens”
So you see, every facet of the Cuban citizen’s life has been controlled since the early sixties by a Stalinist Totalitarian regime, but now it’s the citizens that need “re-educating.” It’s not the system that breeds apathy, corruption and incompetence, it’s the people who need more training.
Juventud Rebelde, the newspaper, reported that the Cuban National Assembly has formed a 43-member commission which will develop an "integral plan for educating citizens" about civil society, in order to strengthen civic knowledge and awareness about the organization of Cuban society
Cubans were ill informed about "many issues" of civil society, assembly President Ricardo Alarcon was quoted as saying.
"The project is inextricably entwined with the present and future of socialism in Cuba,"
This means that more sacrifices need to be made in order save socialism again.
The “newest” man needs to be created. One that will work harder, obey better, complain less and sacrifice more for the common good.
This is about as stupid as hanging an “Under New Management” sign outside a penitentiary.
19 May 2008
Indulge me in some observations on Cuba Nostalgia.
Imagine a BIG, classy, air conditioned flea market with all things Cuban And a loud band, group or stereo every 50 feet or so -that’s Cuban Nostalgia.
Great place to people watch. Cuban women are God’s gift and Cuban men, well, they, err we just think we are.
The older people attending are all there to remember an old Cuba that is being kept cryogenically preserved in Miami until somebody finds the cure for the disease that is afflicting her and she can be reawakened, given the cure and continue her colorful and dramatic history.
I remember once, as a little boy, my mother was telling a fantastic fairy tale of a bygone day in Cuba that I could not imagine in my wildest dreams where she was actually able to travel by ship to Venezuela and Curacao and then return. I was nostalgic for the Cuba of my mother’s youth even tough I had never been there. A free Cuba where you could go, say and eat what you wanted. Paradise.
It was sort of the same this weekend with the younger people at Cuba Nostalgia remembering a Cuba they never knew-a tropical Shangri-la. A land of rumba, rum and romance now reduced to ruins and rubble. A place their mothers told them about. (probably ad nauseum)
In my little corner of Cuba Nostalgia there were dead men, political prisoners, broken families, hunger, pain and reality. Many, of course, fled the real Cuba for the Nostalgic idealized island with the turquoise seas, tangerine sunsets and intoxicating mojitos. Others, however, stayed a while to witness her pain and offer up their tears as a possible cure for her terrible affliction. Eventually we all made a pilgrimage to a huge map of the island, the way it used to be with six provinces, stood over our home town and claimed our piece of paradise with a tap of our foot.
After a while in the Real Cuba, I went over to buy some food and drinks from the one and only vendor at the event, Mambo’s. I waited in line for a good fifteen minutes only to find out that they really didn’t have anything for me to eat-only desserts-since I don’t eat meat and they didn’t have any beer there and I had to wait in another line. Now, that’s the Cuba I remember-I’m not nostalgic for that Cuba, but that’s my Cuba.
But as I watched the nostalgia on the faces of those older than me, I wish I had lived in that tropical Shangri-la my mother told me about.
14 May 2008
The scripts about Socialist Utopias have all been proven to be propaganda, pipe dreams and well, science fiction. So they have been relegated to producing movies where the free market system and the US are the bad guys and nobody goes to see them.
I guess because of the relative success of “The Motorcycle Diaries” where the butcher Che was idolized and immortalized, they have decided to continue to make movies on the 50’s revolutionary movement-the communist plot to take over Latin America.
The latest movies are two Steven Soderberg biopics on t-shirt icon Che Guevara.
Casting an actor to play a historical figure has always interested me because I like movies and I can’t stand it when they cast someone to play a real person that doesn’t ressemble them. Sometimes they do too good a job. For the rest of my life, Malcolm X will look like Danzel Washington.
Che is being played by Benicio Del Toro…
Hmmm..I don’t know. I don’t know if there’s much of a resemblance. The bloated Che, maybe.
In one of Soderberg’s movies current Cuban dictator Raúl is a character and he’s being played by Brazilian Rodrigo Santoro. A lot of Bull in these movies , no? (Del Toro, Santoro - come on! it's hard to pun in Spanglish...)
Anyway, this is Santoro:
Hehehe doesn’t look much like Raúl, does he?
OK, here’s another pic of Santoro.
Ok, I get it. Typecasting.
¡Hasta La Cuenta Bancaria Siempre!
13 May 2008
Mariela gets to travel the world like a jet–setting celebrity. Had her uncle and father not muscled their way into power in 1959, chances are that Mariela would have still been a jet setter since both her parents were form wealthy families. Now, however, the Cuban people pick up her tab and then some. She travels the world with a Cuban passport and an Italian passport. She has Italian citizenship because of marriage. She reportedly also has French citizenship because her mother Vilma’s mother’s family, the Guillois, are French and François Mitterand’s wife, Danielle, helped the family quietly acquire dual citizenship in France- you know, just in case.
So in an interview this Saturday in Spain’s La Vanguardia, some reporter had the good sense to ask the globe-trotting Mariela if she thought it was right that blogger Yoani Sanchez had not been allowed by her dad to travel to Spain to receive her Ortega y Gasset prize. Got to love it. This is a woman, who because of her family’s role in subjugating and enslaving a country, has never had to follow any of the travel and immigration rules that the rest of the country has had to follow. The Castro are so above the law, that I’m surprised she even managed to give an answer:
"It is not necessary to deprive people of their right to leave," she said in reply to a question. "I think we should grant permission to all those who want to leave. People can leave, but with a great amount of difficulty."
It’s not necessary, but it’s done anyway. It wasn’t necessary for her uncle and her brother to destroy a country but they did it anyway…por gusto.
“People can leave, but with a great amount of difficulty." Yes, Mariela you’re right just ask Elvis Manuel
12 May 2008
This is Cuba Nostalgia week so it will be a short blogging week for La Contra Revolución since I’ll be at the babalú booth most of the weekend.
Since we’re in a festive mode, let’s try to have some fun for the rest of the week. That means no rants.
As most you know, Fidel Cowstro is famous for his failed, yet very comical, agricultural experiments especially those involving cows. He tried to mix the Cebu and Holstein cow breeds to engineer the perfect stake and shake producing Elsie, he once even tried to air condition the heads of Belgian Holstein cows so that the cows would think that they were in their cool Belgian climate and produce more milk. Then there’s Fidel’s mini-cow plan in which he wanted to genetically engineer a mini family cow that could be kept as a pet by Cuban families and produce a gallon of milk a day…and a few aromatic cow patties to boot!
Now, I don’t know if now that Fidel is “retired” if he has more time to “wander the countryside” and pay more attention to his love for livestock engineering, but evidence from Cuba suggests that he may be secretly working on creating a “super” chicken to solve the food crisis in Cuba and world-wide because as we all know, Fidel cares.
This form Juventud Sumiza:
In Camaguey, Cuba: Chicken Born with Four Legs
A chicken with four legs was born in the backyard of Pedro Sánchez Hernández, in the Saratoga neighborhood of this city.
A four legged chicken!
Finally, the Revolution has something to crow about!
Imagine the possibilities! Feeding more people with one chicken. No more fighting over the drumstick.
And this revolutionary four-legged fowl can out run any Yankee imperialist CIA mercenary trying to catch to deny the revolution its greatest triumph.
In the wrong hands, such a creature could be used to fuel the orgy of conspicuous spending that characterizes the exploited and oppressed masses that live in societies that have been poisoned by the evil American hegemony of consumerism. Global corporations like Mc Donald’s and KFC would no doubt use these four legged chickens to drive up their profits and pollute the veins of the unsuspecting consumers with cholesterol to create a market for the multi-national pharmaceutical companies, the heartless health care industry that won’t treat the sick unless they have insurance and the oligarchs in the medical profession.
In the right hands, in the hands of the revolution, such a marvel would, of course be used to solve humanity’s problems because that’s the what the revolution is all about: societal problem solving: it’s been 50 years and they’re just getting warmed up.
Of course, the regime is trying to downplay Fidel’s significant achievement as a freak of nature, but we veteran Fidel watchers know better:
These malformations are the consequence of alterations in the bird’s chromosomes, with the probability of this happening again being in the range of one in several thousands, explained Alex Resillez Pujal, an assistant professor of Surgery and Anatomy of the faculty of Agricultural Sciences at the University of Camagüey.
10 May 2008
Looking through some of the concert pics on Flikr, we came across this one:
Man! what do we Cubans need to do to get this kind of world-wide awareness and understanding of our plight for freedom?
Should we all convert to Buddhism? Hmmm…some culinary sacrifices for la Patria…wouldn’t affect me since I’ve been a vegetarian for years, but the rest of you guys….¡que ba!
It would also mean trading in our guayaberas for an orange toga…our cigars for incense…our passionate “discussions” for meditation…our espiritismo for re-incarnation…our “la gloria” for Nirvana…
But most importantly, it would require the Cuban priests to take to the streets and confront the regime in a self immolating act of sacrifice. Instead we get the church humbly asking for a little space in the airwaves.
Ahh, maybe the price is too high. Still, me muero de la envidia.
08 May 2008
Santeria seemed rampant to me when I was growing up in Havana and I had lets say, a healthy respect for the practice. Santeria was out in the open whereas there was little chance of receiving a formal Catholic catechism.
In my superstitious childish mind Fidel was God’s punishment for Cubans breaking the first commandment by practicing Santeria.
Code Pink is now resorting to witchcraft to beef up the number of its supporters protesting Berkeley's controversial Marine Corps Recruiting Center..The women's anti-war group has told ralliers to come equipped with spells and pointy hats Friday for "Witches, clowns and sirens day," the last of the group's weeklong homage to Mother's Day.."Women are coming to cast spells and do rituals and to impart wisdom to figure out how we're going to end war," Zanne Sam Joi of Bay Area Code Pink told FOXNews.com..
07 May 2008
I was talking to a non-Cuban friend the other day trying to convince him that Castro has pretty much been a failure at everything except lying and wrapping his lies in certain key buzz words that put utopians world-wide into a trance. You the reader, may make any connections you like, I won’t. I can lead you to the fountain of wisdom but I cannot drink for you.
As we were talking, we started to evolve the idea over a few bottles of Bavarian wisdom juice and we basically agreed that Castro was a salesman, a marketer. Willy Loman. And although few were buying what he was selling at home-he had to force people to buy it with a monopoly, his ideas sounded good from afar. Besides we like the Willy Loman anology because Loman dies.
A few more bottles of Hops and Barley Elixer later and we were well on our way to realizing that the junior Castro, the one with the sad Chinese eyes, was the same. Another salesman.
Only little brother wasn’t pitching ideas and revolutions and utopia. No. He’s not good at wrapping his lies up in buzzwords. Little brother is much more mundane, much more pragmatic. He’s selling chatzkies. He pushing cell phones, PC’s rice cookers, anything he can get a good mark-up on. Rumor is, he’s going to start selling used government cars soon. How appropriate.
05 May 2008
I think the price was something like $780. I had previously calculated that it would probably be closer to $1,200 when they went on sale.
The looks on the faces of these folks reminded me of the look in Ralphie’s face when he looks through Higbee's Department Store window at the Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air display in “A Christmas Story”
I guess it’s like getting a Porsche with no gas-at least you can sir inside and play the radio.
01 May 2008
Today was May Day, worker’s day, the high holy day of the proletariat when they were “summoned” to celebrate another year in the worker’s paradise with their employer, Raúl.
They were expecting, according to the international press, that Raúl would address them and graciously bestow upon them the right to enjoy a few more creature comforts. Perhaps Raúl would announce the elimination of the dreaded “tarjeta blanca”-the Cuban exit visa. Perhaps he would promise to unify the currency so that Cuban worker could buy whatever the regime will sell them at their company stores with the same monopoly money that they get paid in.
But no, Raúl just waved and smiled and got out of there in two hours.
They did, however, have to sit through a motivational speech by the head of THE union Salvador Valdes Mesa, who coincidently also works for Raúl. His message to the Cuban workers on workers day?
“You need to work harder and be more efficient”-(the “or else” is understood.)
Another interesting event is that the rumors that Felipe Perez Roque having fallen from Raúl’s grace and having been assigned to clean cages in the Havana zoo were finally put to rest. As the picture below reveals, Perez Roque did attend the rally. The AP picture that shows him waving a small Cuban flag while he climbs all over a suspected dissident: