14ymedio, Juan Diego Rodríguez, 11 April 2023 — The writing, in capitals and painted in green on the wall at 464 Calle Belascoaín / Zaina in Central Havana, caught the eye. “I buy women in poor condition”, read the astonished passers-by.
With all the security about, that wouldn’t last long, we thought, here at the 14ymedio office when we saw it for the first time last Thursday — given the speed with which the authorities get rid of spontaneous signs on the streets. Nevertheless, three days later it was still there. On Sunday, an old man was sitting on the ledge just underneath the writing — on a wall belonging to a hardware store, and covered in carpenter’s marks. He seemed to be just resting there, whilst, just further up, the street vendors were spreading out their wares under the arcades.
On Monday, in the same place, the same guy and the same sign. The old man was dressed just the same — in light blue teeshirt and jeans, with the same bag he’d carried days earlier. Is he selling something? Is he some kind of link with another seller ’por la izquierda’*? Building materials? Or, quite the opposite, does he have something to do with the actual sign? Is he guarding it? Is he waiting for its “author” to turn up?
“Is he the one who buys women in poor condition?”, commented a young girl sarcastically, to what appeared to be her mother, as they passed by. “I don’t know, my girl, but he ain’t gonna find them here. It’s him that’s in poor condition, along with the whole country”.
Despite the misogyny of the sign, neither the Federation of Cuban Women nor Mariela Castro — official champion of the cause of equality — have commented on the matter. Apart from that, clearly the capital’s government itself hasn’t seen the necessity of removing it. Obviously because it doesn’t say: “No to the Communist Party“, “Down with the dictatorship“, “homeland and life“, or “Diaz-Canel motherfucker“.
*Translator’s note: ’Por la izquierda’, literally ’on the left’, is the equivalent of the English ’under the counter’.
Translated by Ricardo Recluso
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