What Cuba needs now: A photo exhibit about Fidel Castro

It’s not a straight photo exhibit, but one focused on the monster’s–wait for it–hands. You just can’t make this shit up. His nasty claws. The show, called “Las Manos de Fidel,”  opened this Friday, two days ahead of what would have been his 97th birthday. It includes photos by various people, including Korda (who took the famous Che photo) and Alex Castro, an hijito de papá. The venue is not the lavish new Fidel Castro Center but an exhibition space at the base of the José Martí Memorial in Havana–because, you know, one can never stress enough how closely Fidel Castro, a totalitarian tyrant who never risked his hide, is related to a great man who died in battle to make Cuba free.

According to Cuban media, the photographers “captured moments of the commander-in-chief in which his hands speak for the world and change it forever, from the first years of the Revolution until his last days.” Well, he was certainly the gesticulator-in-chief. This is a mix of abject idolatry and cursilería (a failed attempt at refined sensitivity amounting to pretentious bad taste). It’s also highly inappropriate in the hell life has become for ordinary Cubans in the third-world shithole Mr. Hands turned Cuba into. But this is not about “the people,” who have far more basic matters to attend to and aren’t interested in a dead despot’s hands–which won’t do a damn thing for them.

This is about the ruling class, determined to maintain “continuity” along with their power and privileges. It’s a form of religious orthodoxy, glorifying the god of the “revolution,” that tired euphemism for dictatorship. It’s also a form of denial, an incantation to ward off real reform and affirm that nothing will change, except superficially or cosmetically. Fidel is dead; long live Fidel. There is, of course, no sense of the ridiculous in this affair, certainly no shame over it, as those behind it are too far gone or far too cynical to care. Just business as usual–same BS, different day. This is what they know and have always done, and they have nothing better to offer–just more socialist “magical realism.”

Alas, while one is tempted to dismiss this as a bad joke, the joke is on Cuba and all Cubans who respect themselves. This has been going on for over 60 years now. It’s gotten so bad that Cubans on the island are desperate to leave it, in a frenzy of practically manic emigration from a place which was once a magnet for immigrants. Lord have mercy.

Anyhow, with so many photos of the monster taken over so many years, some didn’t make the cut. Here’s one:

3 thoughts on “What Cuba needs now: A photo exhibit about Fidel Castro”

  1. It’s not clear to what extent the Castro cult of personality is just the continuation of an old habit or a kind of talisman used as a sort of black magic to prop up the “revolution” and prevent its downfall. It has always had a strong element of kitsch, which as my mother would say no es cosa de gente seria (to which I would add that no es cosa de gente respetable). I suppose the regime has to do this, but talk about cringeworthy.

  2. I wonder if they are going to photoshop his hands? “Bola de churre,” known for being unkempt, besides having a mouth full of rotten teeth [that was eventually fixed with dentures], had long dirty nails [read this as claws]. Are we going to see him talking with his hands and the long claws? Will the photos be photoshopped or did they only select the photos where his claws were trimmed?

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