In an atmosphere where the lights are dimmed and with a mojito in hand, I can enjoy songs that in another context would seem hackneyed and pretentious with their corny lyrics. I put the critic in me to sleep and let myself go, if the situation warrants it, for those themes that rhyme “hurting sore” with “I adore,” and “makes me cry” with “must he die?” I can tolerate the romantic kitsch, but bad taste in politics is something I find intolerable. The abuse of images and slogans, repeated until they lose the emotive charge they once had, accentuates the abundant schmaltzyness in societies extremely dominated by ideology, like ours.
Some brief footage of a “Revolutionary Art Bazaar” on a main street in Old Havana, confirms my hypothesis about the decorative elements associated with an ideology. To buy, there, any of these insignias identified with a process, you have to pay with a different currency from that we are paid for our work. Curiously, the “icons” of selfless dedication to a social project are sold based on a clear relationship between supply and demand. In this way the money is transformed into a sweater, a cap or a backpack which is then exhibited like a relic, like some sliver of wood from utopia.
The faces that you see in this small shop are for many people—outside of Cuba—part of a counterculture to confront the status quo. They are the emblems which some call on in an attempt to change what they dislike about their respective societies. But on this Island it is just the opposite, those who look out at us from the posters and T-shirts are, for us, those who created the present order of things, the promoters of the system in which we have lived for fifty years. How could you wear any of these symbols without feeling that you are assuming the culture of power, the emblems of the masters?