3D Film, Raul Castro’s New Hobby / Juan Juan Almeida

Juan Juan Almeida, 12 June 2107 — With a decade’s worth of fledgling but stalled attempts at reforming Cuba’s economic system, a convulsive situation in Venezuela that could have repercussions in Havana and less than eight months to go before the end of his term as president of the Council of State and Council of Ministers of the Republic of Cuba, General Raúl Castro’s preference is for the novelty of the three-dimensional image.

“In collaboration with the Office of the Historian of the City of Havana and with financial support from the European Union and the Barcelona city government, the Interpretive Center for EU/Cuba Cultural Relations opened last month in the Palacio del Segundo Cabo. As part of the project, a 3D movie theater also made its debut. Its goal is to provide support to scholars and researchers studying Cuba’s cave formations and natural heritage. But ever since Raúl Castro learned of the facility and discovered the third dimension, he hasn’t left the place and his constant presence is hindering normal activities in the area,” claims someone who works at the center, which is housed in a historic structure.

“The general,” the employee adds, “is not coming here to learn more about the subterranean riches of the Cuban archipelago, which is our reason for being. He is coming to see Godzilla, Jurassic Park, Pompeii, The Hobbit, Spiders and other 3D movies he brings with him, as though this were his private screening room or neighborhood movie theater.”

“What goes around comes around,” he sarcastically notes. “The Palacio del Segundo Cabo has reverted to its original use as military fortress. Raúl Castro might show up at any hour of the morning, noon or night. Security around the site has been tightened, with uniformed military personnel present. They have even removed the horse-drawn carriages and 1950s convertibles that tourists like so much. Military-run businesses in the area are suffering but, with Habanaguanex in charge…”*

According to the official online encyclopedia ECURED, “in commemoration of Europe Day on May 9, 2017, the permanent exhibition spaces in the Center for Interpretation of Cultural Relations between Cuba and the Old World were inaugurated in the renowned Palacio del Segundo Cabo. The building’s restoration is a major project made possible with funds from the European Union and with the direct involvement of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The most up-to-date technology has been used to create a beautiful center that will allow for exploration of cultural, historical, literary and artistic phenomenon but, more importantly, of our shared communal legacy.”

During the opening reception and in the presence of Cuban officials and foreign diplomats — among them was Herman Portocarrero, ambassador and head of the European Union delegation — Dr. Eusebio Leal, Historian of the City of Havana, referred to the founding of Europe, based on deep and solid traditions, and made a timely reference to the collapse of the Roman Empire and the formation of a new era.

*Translator’s note: In 2016, profitable tourism-related businesses such as hotels and restaurants in restored sections of Old Havana that had been operated by the Office of the Historian were taken over by the Habanaguanex conglomerate, led by the Cuban military.