Disneyfication of San Isidro

As far as the Cuban issue is concerned, the anti-Trumpist exile is between a rock and hard place. A shady deal that reverses, overnight, the policies of the outgoing administration would only succeed in removing the focus from the popular discontent that reached its climax in the civic actions of the San Isidro Movement.

That climax was, undoubtedly, another effect of the Trumpist glásnost, while a second thaw, accompanied by the relaxation of the embargo, would require the automatic disqualification of dissent.

The interests of the powerful Cuban-American political and business lobby, committed to reach a compromise at any price, incline the balance in favor of GAESA. Instead of including Maykel Osorbo, Luis Manuel Alcantara and Omara Ruiz Urquiola in the deal, the neo-Obamists will once again call Jorge M. Perez, Alfy Fanjul, Ella Fontanals-Cisneros and Carlos Saladrigas, plus a cast of fire mulatto women in internationalist medical brigade outfits.

Meanwhile, the oily Alejandro Markoyas, at the head of the Department of Homeland Security, will give the Cuban embassy in Washington the most complete freedom of movement. A platoon of professors, with the LASA seal seared on their buttocks, will invade the socialist university campuses. It is not difficult to imagine Eliancito González returning to Miami with Vivian Martínez Tabares as chaperone.

There is nothing to be done: the exiles voted for dollarization and continuism, and now they have no choice but to accept a morally unjustifiable solution. Castroism will once again act as a loan shark, and the emigrants as an investor and silent partner. In the meantime, GAESA set the basis for a new mercantile tariff in proportion to the remittances.

While waiting for the Canadian tourists, San Isidro has received the Giuliani treatment. That is to say: from slave quarters and slums infected by dissidents to supporting artists for Castroism. The make-up of the dictatorship begins with the whitewashing of the sewer. Only Coco Chanel and Annie Leibovitz have yet to arrive to set the scenes where Patrisse Cullors, of Black Lives Matter, and the Puerto Rican terrorist Oscar López Rivera will have their pictures taken.

Recently the Casa Titón was inaugurated in the same neighborhood. The moving event included among its participants Fernando Pérez, the indefinable one; Pichi Perugorría, the likable volunteer, and the widow Ibarra, a pirate.

There is more: the Yarini bar, also in San Isidro, will be the new convention center for the Hollywood pimps. Its advertising slogan, product of the ingenuity of the Guevarist Benicio del Toro, reads: “My daiquiri at the Yarini and my blow at Casa Pichi”. The son of the celebrated Strawberry and Chocolate actor lends his youthful face to the Posh Children’s Calendar of the self-employed nomenclature. The chocolate in the background is a group of Afro-Cubans with cell phones, transmitting the last ruckus.

Never has a normalization been so abnormal. By contrast, Donald Trump’s Cuban policy managed to put the dictatorship into perspective, making room for the expression of repressed ethnographic content. Even the property claims were a breath of fresh air. The repression of those driving social forces will no longer need the black berets. In times of tourism, the policy of “the shark bathes but splashes” will be the Shostakovsky balsam that will heal the sores of Yankee isolationism.

As it usually happens with everything Cuban, the coverage that San Isidro received has been counterproductive: the biggest beneficiaries of the media scandal will be the galleries, the fashion workshops and the bistros of notorious collaborators. Just as there is a glásnost effect, there must be an antithetical effect of diversionary opacity that turns every counter-revolutionary event into another publicity opportunity for the dictatorship.

From the starvation and the collapses to the floods and the apartheid, the poverty of the Cuban people have served as bait to seduce depraved Canadians and Galicians. Repression as a spectacle is an exchange value in the realm of libidinal socialism. Trump inverted the sign of those values, and the black Trump followers in the San Isidro neighborhood came to a better understanding of the perfidy of Obama and Biden than the award-winning political scientists.

It is not that the vote of conscience of the Democratic exile lagged behind the political awareness of Anamely Ramos and Denis Solís, among other Maroon reparteros,[1] but rather that the projections of the Raulist government match up point by point with the fantasies and anxieties of the gusanera[2]. In the end, the gentrification of San Isidro will be the sad legacy of the supporters of engagement.

[1] T. N. “Repartero” is usually a working class young person that lives in the outskirts of the city and listens to reggaeton. White trash is not an appropriate translation as many of them are black or mixed race. Also, the British term “chav” has a different connotation.

[2] T. N. “Gusano”, worm, was a typical insult that the Cuban government used to attack the counterrevolutionary living in the island or abroad since the beginning of the Revolution. “Gusanera”, then, would be the collective noun for the worms. The term counterrevolutionary could translate the meaning implied, but it is less colorful.

Néstor Díaz de Villegas (Cumanayagua, Cuba, 1956) Poet, editor and essayist. He was an art student, spent time in prison in Cuba, and emigrated to the United States in 1979. He has published several volumes of poetry, all collected in Buscar la lengua (2015). He was the founder of Cubista Magazine (2004-2006). His most recent book, De donde son los gusanos: Crónica de un regreso a Cuba después de 37 años de exilio (2019), has been published by Vintage Español. He lives in Los Angeles, California.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Related posts


Latest posts

Aruán Ortiz Wins Guggenheim Award for Musical Composition

Aruán Ortiz, born in Santiago de Cuba in 1973, is the recipient of the Guggenheim Award in musical composition for 2024. He joins two...

Cuban Artist Luis Manuel Otero Interviewed from Prison

More than two and a half years have passed, half of his sentence, since the jailing of artist Luis Manuel Otero, one of the...

I Have a Friend in Gaza

I didn't know I had a friend in Gaza. In the Facebook profiles of street animal rescuers, cats and dogs are always the protagonists....