This year, I went to Havana’s International Book Fair like someone who believes in miracles: with my fingers crossed behind my back, hoping something had changed. I thought it a good sign that, this time around, the entrance tickets weren’t made of newsprint. (36 photos)
Daisy Valera’s Diary
The long journeys in search of the rissole snack and carbonated drink that mitigated the hunger of my university years would usually take me to the intersection of Havana’s Infanta and San Lazaro streets, before a sign that pointed the way towards the then non-existent Alma Mater bookstore.
It would seem the issue of Cuba’s sugar industry is caught up in an endless process marked by intermittent stages of silence and controversy. As of the close of November last year, with the start of the 2013-2014 harvest, we appear to be entering a boisterous, propagandistic period.
The collectible stamps that came in Cuba’s EVA-brand cigarette packs, showing nude twenty-year-olds from the 1940s; a “Red Sunday” voluntary work medal issued in Holguin in 1984, the immense Coca-Cola signs, now very much in vogue in the décor of new private businesses on the island – are some of the striking things one can come across in Cienfuegos. (38 photos)
What does Christmas amount to in Cuba? A day of reconciliation, not among family members (forced to live together in overcrowded homes or torn apart by emigration), but between the State and the generation my grandparents.
Every 22nd of December, Cubans celebrate Teacher’s Day and commemorate the conclusion of the island’s 1961 Literacy Campaign. For many families in Cuba, this is a financially complicated date. Giving gifts to teachers has become a tradition which clearly delineates the gap that exists between the purchasing powers of different social sectors.
I hear someone yell in the hallway: “We’re all working class here, the State can’t come along and tell me I can’t replace the window frame!” I make a mental note: class-conscious neighbors? Not possible. I continue to move back and forth with my belongings over the distance separating point A (a beat-up, green Moskvitch car) and point B (the door to my new apartment).
“Cuban design ? difficulties” is a simple and useful formula that could well be used to summarize the situation of this practice on the island. The promotional and support strategies which the Cuban revolution developed in many cultural sectors (such as popular music, ballet and others) were scant in connection with the design arts.
Cuba’s first art exhibition and sale event, organized by the National Visual Arts Center and displaying the works of contemporary Cuban artists under the age of 35, began on November 1. (25 photos)
When any announcement in Cuba combines the words “international” and “festival” something resembling a switch is flipped on. A floodgate opens, the spores of a hallucinogenic fungus are scattered around the city and the cultured public of Havana grows feverish. It sets out, willing to endure long lines of people, flash theater passes and buy tickets.