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Yanelys Nuñez Leyva: Writing is to expose oneself, undress before the inquisitive eyes of all. I like to write, not because I have developed a real fondness for nudity, but because I love composing words, thinking of stories, phrases that touch, images that provoke different feelings. Here I have a place to talk about art, life, me. In the end, feeling good about what you do is what matters; either with or without clothing.

Raffle to Stay at Havana’s Super Lux Hotel

August 23, 2017 |

Yanelys Nunez Leyva

Win a night with your partner at….

HAVANA TIMES — Organizing a raffle in Cuba or, better yet, in Havana, presumes a high level of enthusiasm.

It’s not easy to convince a diverse public who aren’t openly familiar with gambling or with the adrenaline of a bettor. This, despite the numbers game, a private lottery, being one of the most regular hidden practices of many Cubans.  Doing so could turn into a difficult and exhausting experiment.

When artists Luis Manuel Otero and Nestor Sire conspired to organize the piece “With everyone and for the wellbeing of a few” (August, 2017), they didn’t really give this subject too much thought, maybe they were very confident in themselves.

Having the chance to stay a night at the Kempinski Manzana Grand Hotel, should have been enough to push the sale of 250 tickets at 2 CUC each.

It sounds easy: 250 tickets, 2 CUC; but residents in Havana are suspicious and the idea of a possible scam is always in the cards.

However, while watching how tickets were sold and the logistics of the experiment, I came across different positive moments when various friends bought several tickets, without any desire to win the prize but just to support the project. And that’s because the essence of the raffle was always been connected to this energy. The artists wanted to carry out a collective action which would drive towards accomplishing an objective.

Another important moment was when, on the day of the drawing, the game’s participants and exhibition attendees came together at an independent gallery, in a festive mood; a diverse group of people, some of whom were completely cut off from the art world.

Leandro Fonseca, a young 18 year old man who was a member of the latter group, ended up being the winner.

He could choose the day he wanted to go. Which wasn’t too long after as, even though his first choice to go was unsuccessful – the swimming pool at the 5* plus hotel was experiencing technical problems the Saturday after the raffle – Leandro was able to enjoy his night at the Manzana Hotel on August 8th.

Taking part in a project of wide appeal like this one, which has been conceived for leisure, helped me to understand a little about how to create real ties between art and an audience who know very little or nothing about art.

And I believe that one of its greatest results is that it planted a little seed of trust in both those who took part and those who abstained out of suspicion. And it took place in a country, where we are riddled with paranoia and fear.

Video used to promote the raffle:

Gran rifa del año en La Habana from havanatimes on Vimeo.

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  • bjmack

    Would be awesome to win that. I grew up poor and so used to buy raffles, as a kid, thinking it would change my life. Still loved just dreaming that I won so that in and of itself is pretty cool.

    • Carlyle MacDuff

      You have placed your finger upon a major social problem bjmack. All too frequently it is the poor who purchase lottery tickets although the odds are usually in the plus 1,000,000 to 1 category. Nor do they comprehend that the odds remain the same no matter how often they purchase.

      • bjmack

        I grew up with a poor kid who won a million bucks on a lottery ticket, Carlyle. A few peso’s here and there keeps the dream alive, for some.

        • Carlyle MacDuff

          I don’t disagree bjmack, but I have in mind an elderly lady with very limited income who as you say “keeps the dream alive”, but is in increasing financial distress. Unfortunately for a very high percentage of those addicted to lotteries the dream is never realised, only increased misery.

          • bjmack

            Oh, for sure, but I grew up with a less than fortunate fellow who just won a few million, lottery. It’s all an illusion…

  • Jorge Porton de Laz

    Carlyle has made me question systems theory or theory itself though I suspect this is more a result of identity politicking than seriousness, and yes having used my real name translated into Spanish I and perfectly willing to contradict myself.
    So let us talk about systems and the use of randomness. Randomness has a long tradition of being used by humanity. It is used, for example, in divinatory processes, as a means of dealing with uncertainty, and it is used in the stock market by capitalist countries for what the neo-liberal economists would have us believe is much the same reason. In fact, like so much divination in the modern world, the modern reason has been for personal profit by the diviners themselves. Randomness is also used in nature, the mutations that take us from one evolutionary position to another are random in nature. I should point out, for those interested in theology or the Orishas, that randomness does not deny intention, it merely states mathematically that the information that determines the outcome is absolutely infinite in nature, something entirely compatible with the notion of it coming from a higher being. Anyway I digress, the point that should be recognised, is that randomness does not occur within a void. Take the famous oracles, the Yi Jing, or the Obi. These texts or odus are not random, but the selection process is. Thus the selection process takes place from a biased base. In both cases the bias is supposed to lead the practitioner towards a particular ideal. So let us consider the use of such methods in the distribution of luxuries. It is clear that lotteries are the only egalitarian way to distribute materials or services for which demand outstrips supply. They may not be the most rational, for example prioritizing certain segments of society at the expense of others may be more effective at achieving certain aims, but as I said, they are the most egalitarian. However leaning from the use of oracles, one can suggest a combination of the two approaches, rational and random to distribute randomly from a biased base. In the case of economics, the base would be a democratically selected segment of society which the people believe should be prioritized. Pure lotteries encourage one to think of oneself. Having an initial stage in which people vote for who should be prioritized encourages the voters to think of others whilst the candidates think of bettering themselves. As I said at the beginning, all this is theory, however, randomness without bias encourages things to stay the same, whereas randomness with bias encourages progress towards an ideal. Thank you.