Cuba Calling

For the last three weeks I’ve been cataloguing all the media assets we gathered on our two visits to Cuba – the hours of documentary films made by TV Serrana that capture the traditional way of life in the mountains, the two dozen or more films made by our young participants in our Camara Chica project, (made in partnership with Suited and Booted in Bath and funded by British Council), the THOUSANDS of photographs we all took, the hours of field recordings made in the towns and villages of Cuba from Guantanamo to Havana, the artefacts we brought back, the santeria paintings, the badges, t shirts and the traditional Campesino spinning top made by Pedro in Victorino… Not to mention the hours and hours of Cuban music given to us by one of the film school students we were working with. It was a big task; organising the materials we have before attempting some kind of installation work with it. I’m overwhelmed with impressions of hardship and strength, beauty and resourcefulness, of imaginations on fire, the open arms of friendship, warmth, community and love.

Last time I was there they were digging up Havana streets to lay broadband cable. In a country where dial-up access can cost twice your monthly rent that’s a big deal. Change is coming to Cuba. The world better be ready, because the spirit and the confidence of these guys is unassailable. They are ready for change and they’re not looking for any handouts – this transition is going to be very much on their terms. There’s a cultural revolution in the wind, one that will be sparked by Cuba’s return to the world and that cultural change isn’t going to be a one-way street.

When we see the way they live in Cuba; how they make do, how they step around the rules to get stuff done, how they network, how they push past the consumer ethic and get down to the business of active and positive social change for all, we’ll be asking some hard questions of ourselves. And when those guys see the way we live, better believe they’ll be throwing some tough questions about the denial we’re in about the emperor’s new clothes our society is wearing.

Viva la banda ancha Cubano!

Barry Hale – en la Sierra Maestra del corazón, November 2014