Free Education with Clowns and Reggaeton / Lynn Cruz

Lynn Cruz, Havana Times, 19 April 2018 — People here have been talking about reggaeton lyrics for a long time. I remember the famous video which a grandfather uploaded to YouTube, where his trendsetting grandson was grinding on top of a girl like an adult to a raucous reggaeton beat.

In front of my house, and also in front of the Ministry of Culture, is the “Union Internacional de Estudiantes” Primary School (UIE) which ironically has a huge photo poster of Che Guevara laying bricks during the school’s construction in 1961: “The Year of Education.” Today, two or three Fridays every month, birthday parties are held at this center in school hours, where better-off parents hire clowns, decorate the yard and even rent out bouncy castles, sometimes. continue reading

As well as rubbing luxury in the faces of those less advantaged financially-speaking, it is a distortion bearing in mind socialist schools still indoctrinate children with collectivism. On the other hand, lewd and violent reggaeton music doesn’t only bother the community, it also forms a part of these parties at primary schools.

Recently, a neighbor from my building called Xiomara Vazquez, the principal of the school to complain about noise. Vazquez defensively answered, arguing that children were holding a Pioneer (communist kids) activity and that they don’t put reggaeton on. That’s to say she lied outright, which you could confirm for yourself just by going out onto the balcony, and she went so far as to ask my neighbor: And you can hear it from the fourth floor?

The interesting thing is that these celebrations generally start off with children’s songs which compete in bad taste with the monotony of reggaeton music, as if you couldn’t educate children listening to classical music, for example. Clowns hired for these events don’t seem professional either. They look like buffoons and still shout even when they are speaking into a microphone. All of this anachronism provokes a distortion, as well as a strange reading about what the educational foundations are at socialist schools here in Cuba, today.

It’s very contradictory. The government’s efforts to uphold itself as the great righteous one (in appearance only), ultimately ignores or abuses the essence of teaching values. Children spend most of the day at school, therefore, the government has a great responsibility when it comes to the future, but they don’t seem to be too bothered by it.

Of course, if everything that needed to be censored was censored, instead of just artists and the press, the country would probably collapse. Art can’t change anything by itself but it can make people reflect upon certain subjects, which dissociate themselves from their context, that are perceived to be represented.

The recent rise in censorship is due to the government having seen its darkest side portrayed by independent journalism and artists. So many views can’t be wrong. They can gag artists, but they can never silence art. They can arrest journalists, but they will never silence the truth.

In the censored documentary Nadie,” by Miguel Coyula, poet Rafael Alcides, the lead character, talks about double standards in Cuba, about how children are taught to be fake from a young age, thereby losing their innocence very quickly.

Ever since the ‘90s and the euphemism of calling those years of great crisis (unnecessarily too) the “Special Period,” began this journey of social deterioration, which the country is currently facing today.

Maybe teachers’ inertia and Vazquez’ own, not knowing how to deal with economic differences or because teaching staff don’t earn enough to make it to the end of the month, but rather receive extras from well-off parents, or because of the lack of opportunities to relax and have access to entertainment, are some of the reasons why they adopt this permissive and deforming behavior. Where does education stand today as a priority, as the driving force behind future generations?

Translation from Havana Times

An Unjust Punishment Twofold / Lynn Cruz

Lynn Cruz

Havana Times, Lynn Cruz, 3 April 2018 — After being expelled from the San Antonio de los Banos School of Film and TV (EICTV), the Actuar Agency has decided to not represent me anymore.

Actuar doesn’t find me work but it stops me from being able to invoice my work as an actress if somebody else hires me in Cuba.

There are two companies which represent actors who work in film and TV, Actuar and Caricato, both of which are owned by the State. The fact that they are denying me representation means that my legal assessment documents from here on out as an actress in order to get paid, won’t be valid, as the company won’t validate them. This decision is an attempt to destroy and put the brakes on my professional life here in Cuba. continue reading

But, something strange has happened, it seems that Actuar and the EICTV, didn’t reach an agreement. The EICTV is blaming Actuar for refusing to represent me, but I received word of Actuar’s order after I was banned from taking part in the Norma Angeleri workshop at EICTV.

Jorge Luis Frias, Actuar’s director, bit his tongue when I asked what the reasons behind this decision were. As I caught him off guard and the script he was supposed to repeat hadn’t been written yet, he didn’t know what to answer, so he promised to write down the reasons for my expulsion in a week’s time because the real people who executed the order don’t reside within this agency.

Has this decision come from the Ministry of Culture or Villa Marista, Cuban State Security’s military base?

In face of such an obvious sham, I told him that they had also done something illegal, because before undoing my contract, both parties have a thirty-day period to repeal the decision if need be, if I haven’t worked for longer than six months or because of absences, and if both parties don’t reach an agreement, a legal process could be opened.

So, I am still legally a member of Actuar, however, my last wages from EICTV were brought to my house in cash, when Actuar should have issued me a cheque. Frias, like any good executing soldier, didn’t care about going off his bureaucratic script because the “good director” has clearly been assured that he wouldn’t suffer any consequences, even if I made a claim.

Now then, it doesn’t say anywhere in this joke of a contract that representation must be withdrawn because the artist doesn’t accept being gagged and stopped from saying what she thinks, which is the real reason behind these schemes and manipulations.

I can’t explain how bad I felt while I tried to explain what had happened to Angeleri, who had practically been deceived by every board member at the EICTV.

Nobody who lives outside of Cuba is ready to understand that this is a sick society where everyone wears a mask and that the line between the truth and a lie, between what’s real and pretend, has been lost.

But, they haven’t punished me because luckily enough, I’ve never lived off of this salary, I have always gone to the EICTV because I love film and that’s why I offer my services as an actress to the students and professors there. I feel I have a duty to work there, to give back all of the knowledge that my own teachers have given me, in this marvellous exchange that making a movie entails.

The only thing they’ve managed to do with these decisions is to destroy the school’s image, which is far from being the place that Fernando Birri described during its founding:

“So that the place of utopias which is nowhere by definition, can be found somewhere.”

This is another of the Revolution’s failed dreams, in the hands of irresponsible, unprincipled persons who are blinded by power.

In my case, the measure only reaffirms what I’ve always been, an independent actress and the students that I’ve worked with at the EICTV who want to call me, I’d like to tell them that I was indoctrinated at socialist schools, where I was taught that the most important thing in life was to be good at whatever I chose to do and, for a long time, my History teachers made me believe that money would cease to exist in 2000 in Cuba.

Starting over is a real challenge for any artist. If they want me, I’ll work for free. Artists don’t believe in bureaucracy.

The video below is not translated into English but it is subtitled in Spanish:

Post reprinted from Havana Times.