Family in Havana : Poetry of the still image in History : Cuba

 Image description:

Castro Moves Into the Havana Hilton BY SANDRA M. CASTILLO

Camera Obscura

The afternoon lightening his shadow, Fidel descends from the mountains, the clean-shaven lawyer turned guerilla, his eyes focused on infinity, El Jefe Máximo con sus Barbudos, rebels with rosary beads on their 600-mile procession across the island with campesinos on horseback, flatbed trucks, tanks, a new year’s journey down the oldest roads towards betrayal.

Ambient light. Available light

Light inside of them, nameless isleños line El Malecón to touch Fidel, already defining himself in black and white. The dramatic sky moving in for the close-up that will frame his all-night oratory, he turns to the crowd, variations on an enigma, waving from his pulpit with rehearsed eloquence, a dove on his shoulder.

This is a photograph. This is not a sign.

Flash-on camera. Celebrity portraits.

      1.     Fidel on a balcony across the street
              from Grand Central Station,
              an American flag above his head,
              New York, 1959.

      2.     Fidel made small by the Lincoln Memorial,
              Washington D.C., 1959.

      3.     Fidel learning to ski,
              a minor black ball against a white landscape,
              Russia, 1962.

      4.     Fidel and shotgun,
              hunting with Nikita,
              Russia, 1962.

Circles of Confusion

Beyond photographs, Havana is looted and burned. Women weep at out wailing wall, El Paredón, where traitors are taken, and television cameras shoot the executions, this blood soup, the paradoxes of our lives, three years before I am born.


But it is late afternoon, and a shower of confetti and serpentine falls from every floor of the Havana Hilton, where history is a giant piñata, where at midnight, Fidel will be photographed eating a ham sandwich.

I read this today on the poetry foundation webpage and found it kind of startling. Thinking in bursts of the visual. The visual memory of images and politics catagorized primarily by how the images were made. Society, revolution and history defined in terms of the remembered stills. Thats what I do too.

The soldiers for Castro ‘heading down the oldest road towards betrayal’. To victory yes we know but also to betrayal ? Thats what it says. I guess meaning who amongst them would have thought the young previously clean shaven lawyer who inspired so much hope would move into the Havana Hilton and go on to become the old bearded dictator still clinging to power 50 years later ?


[ 9 ] c omments
lov e this puc tur e, wonder ful c olor . k athy K @ O c tober 5, 2013, 4:28 am
T hank s Kathy this has a wonder ful c olor palet its tr ue……… I am dr awn to
this image my s elf it has this c olor …… and the r elations hips of the people and
their home……. s omething of people and of Cuba ……. y eah it has s omething for me too …..
:­ ) ) ) ) ) ) )
Cheer s J ez XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX J ez blog :­ ) ) XXX @ O c tober 5, 2013, 9:55 am
T he Cuban r ev olution was Nationalis t, only later adopting Stalanis m ­ not s o muc h
a betr ay al as a c ontinuity ( leas t we fall for the
pr opaganda) c heer s J H
J ohn Har r is @ O c tober 5, 2013, 8:15 am

Ver y tr ue J ohn…… Cas tr o ended up adopting Stalinis m r ather than leading as a Stalinis t
dur ing the r ev olution ……… s till its s ad that s uc h an optomis tic y outhful r ev
olution atr ophied into a s y s tem with the almos t dead hands of the for mer r ev olutionar ies s
till c linging

to their power 5 dec ades later …… us ing the us ual r epr es s iv e methods to deal with dis s
idents …….. s adly the s y s tem has had no r enewal… v er y little c hange… no r efr es
hment of y outhful input in thos e 50 y ear s ….. ther e ar e s ome gr eat things about Cuba but
mos t of that will go out with the bathwater when the Cas tr os finally ar e gone…….. luc k ily
for F idel he has been for c ed by ill health to pas s his thr one to the nex t in line in the
Kingdom ……. ac tually c r eating s tability in the handov er helping to pr es er v e s omething
of the s y s tem without him…….. if he had jus t died in offic e as he would no doubt hav e
done if he wer e not s er ious ly inc apac itated I’m s ur e his s y s tem would jus t c ollaps e
and be was hed away at his death.
J ez blog :­ ) ) XXX @ O c tober 5, 2013, 9:49 am

Rolling bac k at 2AM in a blac k c ab :­ ) X

J ez blog London @ O c tober 5, 2013, 8:56 pm
I doubt pos t Cas tr o Cuba will c hange muc h if the populac e has a s ay ac tually … we’ll s
ee. Neoliber alis m may s eem a wor s e alter nativ e..
J ohn @ O c tober 7, 2013, 9:43 am

It might……. but I don’t k now…… Neo Liber alis m pr obably look s pr etty good to the
Cubans of Hav ana es pec ially ……. s adly people ar e s o gr indingly poor and filled with env
y at the appar ently r ic h tour is ts v is iting …….. it c ompletely des tabiliz es inter ac
tion with loc al people if y ou do v is it ……… may be ther e is a way to mov e out of ec
onomic s tagnation in Cuba s till k eep high liter ac y and medic al s tandar ds ……… and
impor tantly mov e away fr om pr is on for jour nalis ts and dis s idents that s ay the wr ong
thing……… may be end up with a better plac e for all :­ ) ) ) ??
Cheer s J ez XXXXXXXX

J ez blog :­ ) ) XXX @ O c tober 7, 2013, 10:03 am
Politic s as ide…pr etty awes ome s hot dude! ( I s ay this k ind of thing s par ingly thes e day
s :­ ) ) )
Saigon Sv en x x @ O c tober 7, 2013, 12:23 pm
T hank s baby ……. I lov e this one too ……… s omething jus t wor k s in it……… it is
my fav e pic tur e that I made in Cuba :­ ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) Cheer s br o hope all is good :­ ) ) ) )
) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) XXXXXXXXXX
J ez blog :­ ) ) XXX @ O c tober 7, 2013, 4:41 pm

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