Frabetti Doesn’t Believe in Tears / Regina Coyula

The Book fair has brought several intellectuals to Havana who remind me of a poem I read a ton of years ago. The poem talked about the jurors for the Casa Prize came to Cuba, were taken here and there, always very well-organized, and in the end the jurors started to believe they knew Cuba. One of the intellectuals who make me remember the poem was the Italian-Spanish writer Carlos Frabetti. In the meeting the group of intellectuals had with Fidel, Carlos Frabetti congratulated him on the fact that Cuba would be subjected to the aggression of advertising, and referred to the amount of advertising a person is confronted with in Europe.

It’s highly likely that Mr. Frabetti never tuned into our radio stations or television, or read our newspapers. If he did he would realize quickly that in addition to commercial advertising, there is ideological propaganda which is consumed in high doses in Cuba, and not only in the numerous billboards that he certainly must have seen on the road from the airport and along the avenues.

Wonders of technology, Mr. Frabetti apparently has an infant tears meter, and affirms that in Cuba, babies hardly cry, although he modestly conceals it, and he assumes the reason is that our little ones aren’t under a permanent consumer culture assault, in the face of which frustrated foreign children react aggressively.

Where has Mr. Frabetti activated this gadget for prepubescent tears? Does he turn the thing off in the immediate environs of a bus shelter. Does he lack the skill to handle it in the face of a little boy who, on reaching age seven, learns that he won’t have milk for breakfast any more? Had he left it in his guest room when he passed a toy store stuffed with toys and inaccessible to the majority of Cuban children?

After all, maybe the scientific measurements supporting Mr. Frabetti’s assertion are true. But not from the readings of his sophisticated instrument, but because from the time they’re children with consciousness and desires, Cuban parents rob a little bit of their innocence by explaining to them certain intricacies of the ration book, and with intuitive wisdom they distance them from these sites of conflict and perdition called toy stores, as out of reach as the moon, lest, just as frustrated as children from overseas under the bombardment of advertising, our children become as aggressive as they are.

According to the newspaper Granma, this analysis led Fidel to reflect on his aversion to publicity, which the Revolution never appealed to in order to attest to its good deeds.

February 17 2012