Little Remains of the Bright Screens that Celebrated Havana’s 500th Anniversary
It’s not as if the brightly lit screens located in various parts of Havana for its 500th anniversary in 2019 were of much use to anyone. Apart from the few messages that did have any use – those about traffic, cultural events, or Covid – most of them were just slogans, like “Cuba, the Best”, or idyllic photos of the capital that didn’t reflect any sort of reality.
Installed by the Ministry of Culture, they were announced with the same pomp and ceremony as all the other activities that commemorated the capital’s five hundred years, notable events which its historian Eusebio Leal promoted with special determination before his death. Soon, just as with other initiatives for the fifth centenary – like the tourist bicycles – the screens were neglected and, one by one, stopped working.
One of the few that did continue to work is in Carlos III and Infanta Avenue, but you can barely make out what it’s showing because it has lost contrast and the strong sunlight on the glass doesn’t help either, in making out the details in the picture. The back of its casing is all covered in graffiti. Another screen, on Belascoaín and Carlos III, in Karl Marx park, wasn’t so lucky. Its base all rusted away, it fell over this week, perhaps from a gust of wind or a knock from some passer-by.
Reduced to wreckage on the ground this Wednesday, it presented a vivid image of all that now remains of those celebrations which claimed to modernise Havana.
Translated by Ricardo Recluso