Two men check the engine of an old car in Havana, 2010. © Ferran Mateo
Pandemic and protests mark a low-key July 26 in Cuba
Like the Pontiacs that still circulate on the streets of Havana, the Cuban regime remains faithful to its determination to endure, even if only the bodywork and its engine rattle with spare parts from the original. The harangues to resist and the necrophilous dilemma "Patria o muerte" crackles in the ear like an old Benny Moré vinyl. On the Malecón, the notes of that bolero of his, the one that says that after "twenty disappointments, what does one more matter?" Have given way to the reggaeton of the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of utopia, who live their own Special Period with a falling economy free since before the pandemic, dependent on imports and without the last cartridge of tourism. The Caribbean terroir remains stranded in a permanent transition that is conjugated in gerund. "Here, lasting," answered an old Cuban scholar when asked about his health,picks up Iván de la Nuez in his shrewd
(Peripheral, 2020). Later, in the 90s, the same question, adds the essayist, was answered "here, escaping." And since 3G arrived in 2018, why not: “here, browsing”. The use of mobile data has brought the new generation closer to that day “that is coming”, because sooner or later (nothing is eternal) they will no longer be trapped in the exceptionality imposed by the embargo, the tactical isolationism of the single party and that sticky musk of nostalgia for the alien that attracts
In the Cuban-Soviet film
(1964), a technical and stylistic prodigy in homage to the Cuban revolution, shot shortly after the Bay of Pigs invasion, the female
that embodies the island challenges the visitor: for you I am hotels, casinos and entertainment, but I am also misery in the empty hands of children and the elderly. His long sequence shots, without cuts, seem to have inspired the recent slogan of the communist party "We are continuity" (converted into
). Almost six decades later, it is disgruntled Cubans who take shots of the long lines to get imported medicine, tobacco or chicken, as well as the power outages and unprecedented protests in the streets. They post them on the Internet as if to say: "I am Cuba in 2021". The digital blackout as a government reaction speaks for itself. At the end of Kalatozov's feature film, the narrator tells a peasant: you shoot against the past to defend the future. In the middle of the hurricane season, Díaz-Canel does the opposite.