Around the world millions of people are exposed, even over-exposed, to messages and social media through the accessibility of their smartphone. Whether they are in a bus, in school, at work, or in the comfort of their own home. As many daily realities differ between the United States and Cuba, the benefit of unrestricted Internet access at our fingertips is taken for granted. In Cuba, in order for people to have access to the Internet they must purchase an access card from the state-run telecommunications company called Etecsa for about one U.S. dollar per hour.
In December of 2014, United States President Barack Obama made a monumental announcement that he planned to re-establish diplomatic relations with Cuba after the 50-year embargo. The embargo was to be kept in place, but steps were to be taken to loosen it. An embassy was to be built in Cuba to increase diplomatic ties. Measures were taken to increase financial freedoms between the two countries.
Years of uneasiness and distrust define the relationship between the United States and Cuba, a trend which continues today. While some strides have been made to improve their interconnection, there is still a Cold War sentiment that plagues discussions, not to mention many are still in support of Castro. During former President Obama’s administration extreme efforts were made to change with Cuba but are now being changed by President Trump’s office. While some fractions of Obama’s policy still remain, the language used by Trump is disconcerting and does not instill a positive future.
Earlier last month, Cubans Americans held their breath as U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson contemplated what would become of Title III of the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity (LIBERTAD) Act. Eventually passing the responsibility off to Thomas Shannon, the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, it was decided that the measure would be suspended another six months, to the dismay of thousands who believed the Trump administration would upend the long disputed bill (Torres 2018).
Over the course of the last year, a number of American Embassy personnel stationed in Havana has fallen victim to a series of symptoms thought to be the result of an attack per sonic device, toxin or virus.
On February 7, 1962, the White House imposed an embargo on Cuba that included food as a punishment for communist Cuba’s support of the Soviet Union. The embargo was eased on several occasions. Most recently in 2014, when President Barack Obama announced the reestablishment of diplomatic relations with the island and a series of actions aimed at reinitiating transactions between the two countries. Soon after, food products from the US started to be exported to Cuba.
“I used to get mad at my school,
The teachers who taught me weren’t cool
Holding de down, turning me round,
Filling me up with their rules.
I’ve got to admit it’s getting better,
A little better all the time.”
In April of 1948, a full-page cartoon in Carteles showed a paterfamilias being asked by his daughter, “Papá, what’s a politician?” Visibly upset, he dropped his cigar and bellowed, “Young lady!
My article on Cuban writer and filmmaker Jesús Díaz (1941-2002) is part of a broader research project on cultural policy, participation and censorship in Cuba.1 I raise two questions. First, what is the role of cultural agents in the production of both stability and change in Cuba, and concomitantly, what does the regime do to coopt actors and control the production of politico-cultural forms? Second, when and how do writers and artists actually push for more ‘space’ and deploy their expressive powers in a way that challenges the statu quo?