Thursday, December 02, 2004

cuba libre

No, it's not about rum and coke...

So my friend N has a friend E, a curator and artist. E is curating a show by a Cuban artist. The powers that be at E's institution are now giving her some grief because they are either getting grief or afraid they will get grief from the Cuban politico mafia that runs things around here. To which I say to the hard-liners around here...

Shut the fuck up already. Seriously...shut the fuck up and ge over it.

We know that culture and commerce break down barriers. It's worked in Vietnam and it's worked in China. Things aren't perfect in either place, but they're arguably better than in Cuba. Yes, I know that you have friends and relatives who have suffered at the hands of Castro.

But guess what? Your friends and relatives aren't the only ones to have ever suffered from political repression. Your situation isn't special. What makes you special, different from Chinese and Vietnamese in this country, is that you're enough of a concentrated voting bloc that you weild disproportionate power. You beg for hard-line policies that just hurt those friends and relatives in Cuba but not in jail, people trying to work hard. Your reactionary and archaic political philosophy hurts people living in the US who want to help their friends and relatives in Cuba. You keep them from sending money, claim that such revenue only props up Castro.

But guess what? That old S.O.B. will be around for a while. Like the miserable curmudgeonly old great-uncle who is an unpleasant jerk, he won't die. He'll be around for a while, and every day he breathes you fret and worry and sit and spin. And your hatred and irrational behavior just hurts your own countrymen.

I have Chinese friends who happily return to visit, who send money, who host their families here. They know that this makes better the lives of their China friends and relatives sill in China. The situation there is no less repressive than in Cuba.

All E wants to do is to stimulate dialogue. That's the point of art in situations like this -- to get people thinking and talking. Arts and sport are two effective means of transcending the bullshit pettiness of the modern nation-state political litterbox.

Commerce and culture break down barriers. We know this, and it's time to bring Cuba into the fold. Force change by giving people there a taste of the outside world. We know it works, even if the change takes a while, and there are Tiannemen-like hiccups along the way.

So please, shut up and get over it.

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