Cuba: The Continuity of Triumphalism

Mural in relief at the entrance to the Youth Labor Army market on Tulipán street, in Havana. (14ymedio)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 1 January 2022 — On the last day of 2021, the directors of the Youth Labor Army market (EJT) on Tulipán Street surprised their regulars with a mural in relief that reproduces an old icon of triumphalism: the image of a peasant carrying a succulent bunch of bananas, taken from the back of the 20 peso bills in circulation.

The curious thing is that this image already appeared on the banknotes of the 1990s with the label “Food Program” and in the current ones the foot of the engraving says “Agricultural Development.” Accompanying the guajiro, in both cases, are some furrows that stretch into infinity and some sugarcane workers on a combine in full swing.

The image is taken from the back of the 20 peso bills in circulation. (Collage)

Without the intention of aesthetic pedantries and without pretending that behind the innocent mural is the hairy hand of the ideological apparatus, the reproduction of the banana picker at the gates of a market offers signs that the same triumphalist vision of a controlling State that “guarantees” food to the people continues to be projected.

It doesn’t matter that the bananas they sell on the other side of this gate are no longer those “microjets” from the 90s that made the fat splash up in the pan due to their excessive water content; and even less important is that the price has multiplied by ten today, since the last issue of those bills.

There he is with his slight and sweaty smile, this peasant whose skin has been darkened in the artistic endeavor and to whom, without hidden ideological intentions, they passed the bunch from the left hand to the right. A matter of design.


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