Monday, May 08, 2006

Cuba Si, Propaganda No! - UPDATED

Below is a letter to the Editors of Communication Arts. It's self explanatory.



Dear Editors,

As the son of Cuban Exiles, I read your piece in the May/June edition of CA with great interest. Cuba's artists and designers deserve the international recognition they get and there is no doubt about the level of talent that has always been present in Cuba. But I was disappointed with the one-sided accounting of the Cuban Revolution and its "accomplishments." No mention of the omnipotence of the State, the censorship, or lack of basic human rights. No mention of the subversion and endorsement of bloody Revolution that Cuba has been a party to throughout the third world.

I am still amazed to this day with what left-wing dictatorships can get away with in the name of social justice. It goes to show that you can commit any atrocity as long as you have a good publicist.

Fortunately, and perhaps ironically, the very next story in that issue of CA was about Edel Rodriguez a Cuban-American illustrator who fled Cuba along with his family and more than 125,000 others in the 1980 Mariel boatlift. Though not as overtly political as the aforementioned piece, the discerning CA reader can distinguish some key truths about Cuba in the article about Rodriguez. The piece raises some interesting questions such as:

Why would Mr. Rodriguez parents (and more than 1 million others over 47 years of dictatorship) leave their homeland, and often risk their lives, to leave the "worker's paradise?"

Why did the Cuban government force Rodriguez' aunt to bring "dozens of convicts" on the boat she chartered for the purpose of bringing over family members?

Two of Mr. Rodriguez' featured works are very revealing. The first, "Un Pais Libre" is described by Mr. Rodriguez' in his own words about his homeland. There are Orwellian billboards everywhere... I found it amusing to draw a billboard I saw with this slogan which translates into a 'A Free Country.' I placed it behind our Chevy, which is isn't going anywhere, far from being 'free.'

In "The Cook" we see a servant cook toiling for her new master, a bearded Revolutionary in the obligatory fatigues. The truth is that Cuba today is a bad copy of itself from 1958. dictatorship, human rights abuses, prostitution and grinding poverty. All exponentially worse they were half a century ago.

Hopefully the symbolism and truth of these works was not lost on the casual readers of CA.

Henry L. Gomez

UPDATE: I received this comment from Edel Rodriguez, the designer I mentioned in the above letter. Here are his thoughts.

Hola
I found your site on google. Guess who here. Edel Rodriguez, the artist that you mention above. I'm not too happy with the "Cuba Si" article either and spoke to one of the editors about it and will be writing a letter. Here is a good example of b.s. : In the article he calls TV Marti "propaganda" but then calls what's on Cuban T.V. "educational programming". I took out the highlighter, no mention of the word "dissident" or "political prisoners".

But, the writer spent two paragraphs on the U.S. base in Guantanamo and all the Amnesty international stuff there. No mention of Amnesty Intl. in regard to Castro, etc.

He says Cubans are guaranteed a well balanced diet by the govt. through ration books, when my family there doesn't get anything through the ration books, it's all on the street. Anyways, there are a bunch of things like that so it ticked me off. Several other Cuban designers felt the same way and are writing in so I encourage all of you to do the same.

Here is a link to an article the same guy wrote about China. I think he gave them a pass too:

http://www.commarts.com/CA/feaint/china/

Later,

Edel

2 comments:

Srcohiba said...

Amen on this. My mom and other artists and musicians who came here in the late 50's and 60's who have more talent than can be imagined, get little recognition by the media, yet some old shmuck out of communist cuba makes a documentary with some naive american musician, then they get all the recognition and credit and money, well actually the money goes to Fidel. Cucho Valdes is mediocre compared to the talented Cuban exile musicians living here in the US...but because he comes from the paradise (should be parasite) of the americas, he gets the fame. makes me sick!

Regards

Cigar Mike

Anonymous said...

Hola
I found your site on google. Guess who here. Edel Rodriguez, the artist that you mention above. I'm not too happy with the "Cuba Si" article either and spoke to one of the editors about it and will be writing a letter. Here is a good example of b.s. : In the article he calls TV Marti "propaganda" but then calls what's on Cuban T.V. "educational programming". I took out the highlighter, no mention of the word "dissident" or "political prisoners".

But, the writer spent two paragraphs on the U.S. base in Guantanamo and all the Amnesty international stuff there. No mention of Amnesty Intl. in regard to Castro, etc.

He says Cubans are guaranteed a well balanced diet by the govt. through ration books, when my family there doesn't get anything through the ration books, it's all on the street. Anyways, there are a bunch of things like that so it ticked me off. Several other Cuban designers felt the same way and are writing in so I encourage all of you to do the same.

Here is a link to an article the same guy wrote about China. I think he gave them a pass too:

http://www.commarts.com/CA/feaint/china/

Later,

Edel