14ymedio, Havana, 14 August 2019 — A new challenge has been born in social networks. This time it is not about taking pictures lining up to buy chicken but uploading an image that contains the Cuban flag. With the label #LaBanderaEsDeTodos (The Flag Belongs to Everyone), the aim is to claim the non-partisan or ideological character of the national banner, weeks after a Law of Symbols that strictly regulates its use went into effect.
The catalyst for the initiative was the arrest of Luis Manuel Otero Alcantara for carrying a Cuban flag on his shoulders, while performing a performance with the title of Drapeau (French for “flag”), in which the artist carries with him for a month the national banner. When the police arrested Otero Alcantara, they confiscated the flag and kept him for 48 hours in an unknown location, until he was released on Monday.
After leaving his confinement, the artist launched the challenge on the internet and so far has accumulated more than a hundred images from various parts of the world in which Cuban flags are seen in different contexts and situations. In an airport, in the middle of the field, on a rooftop, waving on a balcony, facing the sea or captured by the hand of a painter; the artist’s Facebook account is full of blue stripes, the red triangle and the lonely star.
But the task has not been easy. The flags sold on the island’s network of state stores are priced prohibitively for most wallets. A regular size flag can exceed 15 CUC, the third part of a doctor’s monthly salary. Those who have one take care of it and protect it from rain and sun.
From the headquarters of the San Isidro Movement, of which Otero Alcantara is a part, a call was made to make donations of flags and in a few days they have received dozens.
The official response to the initiative has been unexpected in social networks and some Internet users close to officialdom have responded with the label #ConMiBanderaNoTeMetas (Don’t Mess With My Flag) that has so far has had much less of an impact and tries to link this symbol to an ideology and a party.
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