Cuban Socialism’s New Man in Havana’s Capitolio / Lynn Cruz


Havana Times, Lynn Cruz, 7 March 2018 — “Oprah Winfrey, one of the world’s best neoliberal capitalist thinkers,” is a critical essay by Nicole Aschoff for The Guardian newspaper about the speech Winfrey gave at the latest edition of the Golden Globes.

While reading it, and as a result of Aschoff’s brilliant analysis, I could understand one of the ways that this economic and political movement is being manifested. continue reading

According to Winfrey, anyone can go as far as she has. She could criticize Trump but not the system that fabricates the fantasy of wanting a life that doesn’t necessarily keep in line with an individual’s real possibilities. In other words, Winfrey defends the “American dream” which is also the “Latin American nightmare,” not just for immigrants but also for the realities of Latin American people.

The heart of Winfrey’s speech addresses the fact that every success or failure is an individual’s sole responsibility. It omits the existence of political, economic or social situations and that’s why Aschoff calls her way of thinking “neoliberal.”

Because ideas also fall into abstract terms, Cubans were also given a dream, the dream of social justice; it doesn’t matter that it might be unsustainable given the fact that the conditions to move towards this “Communist paradise” were never created. Karl Marx didn’t say that a Revolution could bring about a communist system.

It isn’t easy to analyze a system which has been adopting and adjusting certain positions, based on the philosophy of the “temporary.” This has been the trap that the government has fallen into in the long run, a prisoner of its own inclinations, it wants to survive although it has to deny itself, its own rhetoric in order to do so and the most important thing in the name of the majority is to demand that: “We need to improve” in order to disguise this transition towards state capitalism.

Even when it keeps its so-called “achievements” going: “Free healthcare and education.”  As part of a globalized world, Cuba also runs the risk of not being exempt from this neoliberal political and economic movement, in its different forms of manifesting and defining itself.

Reality on the island, the product of the historic exhaustion of four generations which have walked along a cobbled path, in the name of anti-imperialist resistance, is that of apathy and discredit towards politicians.

Cuban society is moving more and more towards individualism, saving oneself at any cost, in the face of the chaos and social disorder that have taken over the country. In the long-term, years of sacrifice have only proved that Cuba is nothing but a poor country, trapped in a geopolitical conflict, which dates back to the Cold War.

This wouldn’t be dangerous if the economy had been strengthened during the nearly 60 years of this same system, with a real rule of law and civil society. In Cuba, poor governance also prevails today with a president and a small anonymous group that control and exercise power from the shadows, who are only worried about their opposition, in any way they take form, whether that’s in art or politics.

El Capitolio de La Habana. Photo:

A while ago, during a movie shoot for Cuban TV, I was at the Vistar magazine office, a gossip magazine which has popped up within this low budget capitalism that is becoming more and more visible and tangible here. At the office entrance, there was a slogan: “Consuming what we produce is a way of being patriotic.”

Preparing yourself for Cuba’s future will mean doing business but without questioning the Communist Party and its so-called “achievements.” That is to say, the current Cuban government’s ideology is focusing on the business world. Those who were born in the ‘90s, for example, didn’t live during the time of the Russians and so they became conscious within a dollarized society. For them, the Revolution is just a brand up for sale in Old Havana, where Cuba spreads its legs like a prostitute. And the new Cuban Parliament will establish itself there too, in the Republican Capitolio.

What happened to the idea of Cuba’s “New Man,” forged from the steel of an anti-imperialist Revolution?

From Worms to Repatriates: Cuba’s Exile Community / Lynn Cruz

The Camarioca exodus of 1964. (Havana Times)

Havana Times, Lynn Cruz, 27 February 2018 – Ever since I began making Political Theater, one thing hasn’t stopped tormenting me, it’s almost psychological torture. It has something to do with the fact that you end up living in a constant state of paranoia.

A prisoner of labels in a world that doesn’t have time to see the nuances of something, where everything is black or white, especially in an authoritarian system which hides behind the guise of a Leftist government which defends social justice, theoretically-speaking. continue reading

In his book Sabbat Gigante, Nestor Diaz de Villegas, the writer who stirs things up among the Cuban exile community, says that the “worm” has been Castrismo’s greatest creation. He was a political prisoner when he was just 18 years old because of a poem he wrote to Carlos III Street, which later became Salvador Allende Avenue after the Revolution triumphed. A teenage prisoner of conscience.

Drawing conclusions from his analysis, you could deduce that Miami became the city of worms. Something that Fidel Castro created together with the US government. This is how Castro purged the island to prevent any kind of political competition. The first “worms” to leave would be the middle class, small business owners, professionals and intellectuals.


An organized repudiation of those leaving the country at Mariel in 1980. “Out with the Antisociaists. Out with the scum” (Havana Times)

An organized repudiation of those leaving the country at Mariel in 1980.
However, 54 years after the first mass exodus in 1964, Cuba is a doomed land today. Opposition on the island is also slandered off as “mercenary” for receiving funds that come from these same Cuban-American “worms” that probably left during the Camarioca boatlift.

A new kind of “worm” left during the following exoduses, the working class who don’t live off of funds from the White House once they are there, nor are they Cubans with renowned surnames. When the time came, they were also labeled “traitors”.

However, in his Sabatt Gigante, Diaz de Villegas says: “There is a kind of late vindication in the fact that the monstrous worm returns to Cuba, transformed into a butterfly.”

They sustain the country with their remittances. However, the Cuban government made sure of adding a 10% tax to the dollar with regard to the Convertible Cuban Peso (CUC). I’m using its English abbreviation so as to not confuse it with the other PCC (Cuban Communist Party), one of destiny’s ironies.

Thus, every time a Cuban begins criticizing the government in a direct way, and shows them that they aren’t afraid, they run the risk of being converted into a “worm”. You have no other choice but ostracism or exile.

Meanwhile, a new kind of industry created by Castrismo has also been extended to the so-called “missions” that doctors, athletes, artists and teachers go on. They are the ones who really pay for the so-called “achievements of the Revolution” which are of course riddled with corruption.

Cubans rest at the immigration office in Penas Blancas, Costa Rica, on the border with Nicaragua on November 16, 2015. Photo: Ezequiel Becera /AFP
You can’t deny Fidel Castro’s intelligence; he collected all the glory for himself, at the expense of dividing, oppressing and crushing the Cuban people.

On the other hand, Donald Trump, the current president of the United States, who represents the ugly American, has stood out for his hostility towards immigrants from “shithole” countries. He has reinforced tensions with the Cuban government, condemning both nations to live in uncertainty and fear. However, it led to the Cuban government establishing the new category of “repatriate worm” after it was supposedly going to “reconcile with its exile community”.

Even though Cubans have a US passport, they still need a Cuban passport to travel to Cuba. Could Cuban and US immigration services please explain, what the status of a repatriate is?

Lynn Cruz is Committed to a Theater of Resistance

Lynn Cruz in a scene of ‘Corazón azul’, a film currently in production. (M. COYULA)

diariodecubalogoDiario de Cuba, Waldo Fernandez Cuenca, Havana, 15 February 2018 — The theatrical work Los enemigos del pueblo (The Enemies of the People), whose presentation at the independent El Círculo State Security forces sought to prevent, undoubtedly marks a watershed in the career of actress Lynn Cruz. At that time she decided to create, with her partner the filmmaker Miguel Coyula, art in a totally independent and political way.

Lynn Cruz boasts an extensive career. Since 2003 she has worked in several Cuban theater groups, and had an enriching experience in German theater, in 2009. She won the David Suárez Award for Best Actress in Venezuela, and the Cayenne Short Film Festival Award in New York, in 2016, both for her leading role in the short film El niño (The Boy). She was nominated for Best Actress at the Los Angeles Film Festival in 2015 for the short film Finales, produced in Ecuador. She has formed part of the cast of Cuban films like La Pared (The Wall), Larga Distancia (Long Distance), ¿Eres tu, papá? (Is That You, Dad?) and the documentary (NadieNo one, by Coyula, censored in Cuba and honored at the 10th Film Festival of the Dominican Republic, in 2017. continue reading

DIARIO DE CUBA talked to her about her beginnings and her constant search for freedom in her professional career.

“In my adolescence I did not have a defined vocation, nor did I know what to do with my life. Since I didn’t want to end up without a university degree, I chose to study for a degree in Geography, which was one of the easiest majors. On that path I discovered that what I really liked was acting,” she explained.

“I ventured into amateur theater groups in Matanzas, where I lived, but I couldn’t make my way there. In the year 2000 I moved to Havana, where I was able to enter a professional group called the Teatro del Puerto. I was there for a year. Then I worked in other theater groups, until in 2009 I traveled to Germany to work with the independent group Pig’s Appeal in that country.”

What was the experience of doing theater in Germany like?

Before that Colombia was the only other country I knew, and it was the first time I was in a developed country. That really affected me as an artist. I started to question my identity, because I worked with German playwrights and actors. I also had to deal with a text openly critical of the Cuban reality, by Carlos A. Aguilera, and my reticence to perform it. That did not mean that I was in agreement with the Cuban political system, because I have always been very rebellious, but until then I identified more with the institutions than with what was outside of them.

The experience of doing theater in Germany was so intense, from every point of view, that it totally changed me. From that moment on, I lost the motivation to work for institutions. Before my trip I had achieved the dream of every actor, which is to play a leading role in a film, in Larga Distancia (Long Distance), directed by Esteban Insausti. But in the end I felt that my life was the same, that nothing had changed. It was then that I begin to think about forming my own theatrical group, independently.

How did you manage to put together the work El Regreso (The Return), which marked the birth of the Kairós Theater in 2011?

The work La Indiana, by the Catalonian Angels Aymar, in which the Catalonian presence in the 19th century is portrayed, and the nostalgia with which those indianos (Spanish emigrants) wrote their letters, speaking of their native land, spurred me to draw a parallel with Cubans who have left and their nostalgia for a lost land. I managed to get the Spanish Agency for International Cooperation to support me financially with its staging. However, the money was not much, and we had to reduce the number of actors, from six, originally, to one.

Then came the opposition by the president of the National Council of Performing Arts, Gisela González, to the work to being presented at the Adolfo Llauradó Theater. But I was determined to stage the work, even if it was in a park. In response to that meddling, the Spanish Embassy secured a space at the Las Carolinas (theater), in Old Havana, but the technicians wanted a bonus to stage it.

This kind of payment is a standard practice when they see you’ve got foreign financing. If you don’t pay it, you pay the price I did: they sabotaged the show. It was a horrible experience because the audience came in ahead of time, because there were no doormen, among other very unpleasant incidents. For practical reasons I could not continue at the Teatro Kairós at that time. I had no money to support it, and I accepted other offers to work in cinema.

How did the play Los enemigos del pueblo (The Enemies of the People) come about. Was it your return to an openly critical and practically solo theater?

The theater director Adonis Milan found out that I had shouted “¡Viva Cuba libre!” at a show where that was not in the script. He told me that he wanted to work with me, and he showed me Charlotte Corday, by Nara Mansur.

When I saw that work, so timid, I felt that I couldn’t do it. “Cuban theatre cannot continue to bite its tongue. It must make a commitment to the era in which we live.” I expressed to him that I would rewrite the text to see how it turned out, and so was born The Enemies of the People, where the main reason why Charlotte Corday [who murdered Jean-Paul Marat during the French Revolution] wants to kill Fidel Castro is because the crime of the March 13 Tugboat has gone unpunished.

And, as the cause of Castro’s death was never announced, I thought I could invent a murderer and, more than Charlotte Corday, it is history that does justice.

I feel like this work was not my choice, but that it chose me, because of the emotional impact I felt when I saw the images and accounts of the survivors of that crime.

Although I had second thoughts, because of the consequences it could mean for me, I felt it was my duty to do it. From that moment on, the feeling of freedom that I have felt makes up for possible losses.

What projects are you currently working on?

For some time now I’ve been writing a series of monologues that I have titled Patriotism 3.677, inspired by the anthology Spoon Rivers, by the American poet Edgar Lee Masters. This work is a discussion about the political situation and the future of Cuba, in which five people talk about freedom, democracy and change.

The Kairós Theatre is shaping up and wants to do political theater, in which the tyranny under which we live is directly criticized. It is a theater of resistance because, as everyone knows, all the other theaters belong to the Government. We have managed to perform The Enemies of the People six more times at private homes. Each stage, because it is different, makes every show unique.

I have also been working for the last six years as an actress, co-writer and producer on the science fiction feature film Corazón Azul, by Miguel Coyula. Shooting this film is like travelling, in terms of time and intensity. Working with Coyula, due to how long it takes to complete his films, becomes a life experience. He is a director who works in an artisanal way, and we were brought together by my conception of theater, with a small team, and independently.

This is related to the part behind the cameras. As an actress I like stylized cinema and, since there is not much of it in Cuba, where more realistic films are made, working with him is a real treat.

In Corazón Azul I play Helena, a mysterious woman who has been part of a genetic experiment carried out by Fidel Castro to create the new man. She is a kind of Helen of Troy, and triggers the main conflict in the movie. We have completed 50 minutes, adjusting to the actors’ time, as the budget does not allow for a traditional production.

Note: This translation is from Diario de Cuba’s English site

“They’re Using You”

The creators of the play Enemies of the People denounce that State Security called the piece “subversive” without knowing anything about it. (@liavillares)

Havana Times, Lynn Cruz, 5 February 2018 — I recently read Tania Bruguera’s statements about an artist’s rights. One of them referred to the artist’s right to dissent.

Within an authoritarian system, the artist begins to live a double dissidence, first in art, then in society.

Having your own voice is always grounds for suspicion among members of your artistic community, but when it’s the Government who has the last world with regard to a phenomenon which only concerns art, like deciding who is a revolutionary and who isn’t, then this does put us in a delicate position. continue reading

The two times I invited my closest colleagues to the alternative venue: “Casa Galería El Círculo,” (led by artists and activists Luis Trapaga and Lia Villares), some have told me: “I don’t go to those places.” Others have just respond with silence or stop calling you. And if worst comes to the worst, they repudiate you.

There were actors, theater directors and filmmakers among those I had invited to watch my play “Enemies of the People.”

After the scandal (produced by the presence of State Security forces and police at the home/gallery’s doors, saying that it was a counter-revolutionary play), an actor I had invited, who ironically also makes theater at his home, called me to say that: “He felt used by me.”

He was quite frankly terrified when he saw himself in a video that the house’s owners and a journalist had decided to film, as their only form of defense and way to denounce this injustice.

Plus, this actor is someone who has strong opinions about Cuban reality, who I had always had an open and straight-to-the-point dialogue with before the event. I even told him that something similar had happened at this same place when the documentary Nadie was scheduled to be screened, which the creator, filmmaker and theater director Miguel Coyula, couldn’t even attend.

Even so, he had a scornful attitude towards me: “I feel used.”

What do these words mean in our context? If a lie is repeated enough times, it becomes the truth. Fidel Castro transformed the Cuban people into an army, whose soldiers didn’t fight against an enemy, but fight each other instead, while he took all of the glory.

The subtext that lies between the lines of this phrase: “They’re using you” is “Let me be the only one to use you.” Thus, artists who are condemning or approving slander campaigns against their colleagues, who are being persecuted for defending the right to make political art, become pawns in a game of established power which isn’t only being played by arts institutions, but by the Cuban government itself.

“Enemies of the People” deals with an event that continues to go unpunished today: the sinking of the 13 de marzo tugboat on July 13, 1994.

Back then, Castro condemned the US Government instead of the captains of the attacking boats (encouraged by him even?), the real ones responsible for the genocidal event which caused half of those on board to die from drowning, including children. However, survivors’ testimonies are pristine proof of the event.

However, Article 3 of the Cuban Constitution states: “In the Republic of Cuba, the sovereignty resides in the people, from whom all of the power of the State emanates….” it goes on to say: “All citizens have the right to fight, using all means, including armed struggle, when no other recourse is possible, against anyone attempting to overthrow the political, social, and economic order established by this Constitution”… and ends by saying: “Cuba shall never return to capitalism.”

This explains why the people responsible for the sinking were labeled “heroes” and haven’t been sentenced to this very day. We mustn’t forget that the brains behind this system were the brains of a lawyer.

Note: English translation from the Havana Times which also published the original in Spanish.