Petrifying Cuba’s apostle, Jose Martí

Via Diario de Cuba:

Petrifying Martí

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Martí es un mojón.” (Martí is a turd). A simple line by a fictional character in a movie (not even finished) has set off alarm bells with the cultural authorities on the Island in recent weeks.

The official media, loyal arbiters of the permissible, have hastened to underscore the sacred nature of Cuba’s father. The UNEAC, meanwhile, has rushed to join the fray, raising its voice in protest: “No messing with José Martí!” Praised be the writers.

This frantic uprising of soldiers in defense of the Apostle borders on hysteria. And, as such, it is symptomatic of something much more profound: the ideological impasse of the Cuban regime, its running aground.

Another sign of this scenario were the recent remarks by the Deputy Minister of Culture, Abel Acosta, who descried musical tastes “imposed” by the market. It came off like a rebuke of Cuban singers who have been successful on the international stage.

For regime higher-ups, the problem with figures like Yimit Ramírez, for example, or Descemer Bueno, is that their creations do not conform to Cuba’s institutional channels, either because they manage to finance themselves independently, or because they play by the rules of the international market.

Theirs is an autonomy that manages, to a certain extent, to defy the dictates of the Government’s cultural policy. But it is one which also, for this very reason, reveals in Cuban society, and in particular its youth, content of interest, in terms of production and consumption, that is oblivious to the official rhetoric.

The new reality

An obsession with young people’s possible “deviations” has been a constant concern of the Cuban Revolution, a threat of ideological backsliding lurking around every corner. But changes over the last two decades have given rise to a society that, more than ever before, does not conform to the indivisible block envisaged by socialist ideology.

The gradual development of market mechanisms, the increase in poverty and socio-economic inequalities, the demographic drain due to emigration, the increasing importance of the community of exiles in sustaining the domestic economy, have been corroding the pillars of revolutionary propaganda.

As Cuba looks increasingly like any other Latin American country, the illusion of its exceptionality has vanished, that manifest destiny about which Marti was so passionate, and which the regime sought to co-opt.

As equality – which supported the existence of a relatively homogeneous country, and the same time legitimized the workings of the system – now evaporates, the tensions that rack current Cuban emerge in all their crudeness.

These phenomena, however, are only a consequence of the policies set in motion by the country’s elites, to ensure their perpetuation in power. Therefore, the ideological apparatus is unable to fill the cracks between a socialism reduced to a mirage and the endogamous state capitalism that rules the country.

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1 thought on “Petrifying Cuba’s apostle, Jose Martí”

  1. I’m afraid the real problem with Martí is that he was too good for Cuba, which is why even in Republican Cuba he got mostly lip service, although he was never grotesquely distorted and adulterated as he has been by Castro, Inc. The man was definitely not a typical Cuban, not even close.

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