Does D.C. Stand for “Donate to Castro?”

by    /  May 12, 2014  / 4 Comments

New campaign pushes for an update in Cuba-US relations.

#Cubanow advertisement

An advertisement posted by CubaNow. Photo: #Cubanow.

Snoozing on the Washington, D.C. subway early one morning with my dreams still flitting between Franz Kafka and Stephen King after a evening filled with nightmares of State Security bursting into the apartment I’m staying in—which is near to where they shot The Exorcist—I finally wake up when I see the CubaNow banners through the train’s windows.

  1. ¿Vale la pena enfocarse en las imágenes y palabras escapadas de la última utopía viviente en la Tierra? ¿Es la Cuba de hoy un país contemporáneo u otro idilio idiotlógico en el desierto ladinoamericano? ¿Nostalgia post-Guerra Fría con culpa o complicidad del Primer Mundo? ¿Cabe confiar que una Rewwwolución en Red removerá al régimen retrovolucionario de 1959? Aspiro a provocar más dudas que certezas. Leer o no leer: he aquí la cuestión.
  2. Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo nació en La Habana de 1971, donde aún reside y resiste. Como bloguero independiente, es escritor y fotógrafo. Su más reciente libro de ficción se llama BORING HOME (Garamond, 2009). Desde 2010 es el editor el e-zine literario y de opinión VOCES.

CubaNow is a media campaign run by a group of young Cuban-Americans who prefer not to disclose the source of their funding. Their secrecy echoes the recent scandal of USAID’s not “undercover” but “discrete” operations with the ZunZuneo project, an SMS network designed to work in Cuba. Their secrecy is also a reminder of the opacity with which the Havana government operates, in its domestic matters that ought to be in public view, as well as its smuggling of weapons on civilian ships, and its spies in the United States disguised as scholars, entrepreneurs, and even Pentagon analysts.

It’s curious how similar the political propaganda is starting to look in the capital cities of those two once irreconcilable enemies.

Perhaps CubaNow is a part of the pressures that President Obama needs to feel before he takes each controversial step, even though his administration has already shown enough signs of goodwill towards Castro’s Cuba, as these banners implicitly recognize. For their part, the leaders over in the Plaza de la Revolución have always rejected any rapprochement that does not fit with their monolithic model for continued power.

“It’s time to try something new,” suggest the CubaNow banners. Also, “It’s time to bring the discussion of politics between the United States and Cuba into the 21st century.” Then they add a quote from the blogger and famous Cuban dissident Yoani Sánchez, plus a photo that I took of her.
As far as I know, we were never asked whether we wanted to lend our support to this campaign. As compensation, CubaNow ought to do a better job of launching itself in today’s Cuba, where the people need something more than economic concessions, in a denaturalized nation that has lived for 55 years under a single press, a single party, and a single person.

About the Author

Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo was born in Havana City and still resides and resists there, working as a free-lance writer, photographer and blogger. He is the author of Boring Home (2009) and is the editor of the independent opinion and literary e-zine Voces.

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