Neither Shields Nor Swords / Fernando Dámaso

  1. Often, in the name of a false defense of national identity and values, they have erected barriers that instead of protecting something what they have done is to isolate us and separate us from the rest of the world. In short, identity and national values have been formed by mixing customs and everything else, from different regions.
  2. Take, for example baseball, considered the national sport. It emerged in the United States and was played by Cuban expatriates in the colonial era, and they brought it with them on their return, until it became widespread and formed part of national identity. This did not happen with bullfights; practiced in the country in the nineteenth century, they discontinued from the early twentieth century. Water sports which had a great popularity in the first half of the twentieth century, were restricted with the triumph of the insurrection, given that the sea and everything having to do with it was considered a bridge with the United States, the eternal enemy. In this case, the political interests did not care about the identity and national values reflected in sports, or about our condition as water-rich archipelago, which would imply these sports should be practiced and prioritized and developed.
  3. In other countries, they have assimilated other sports events, art, etc., without losing their identity and national values, and attached them to their heritage, enriching it. Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Australia, Holland, Italy, Egypt, etc. are good examples.
  4. We exclude and declare war on tennis, golf, equestrian sports and others, considered bourgeois although they had nothing to do with socialism. Like we did with the avant-garde in the sixties and seventies, prohibiting the Beatles and other groups and musicians, and their foreign their music, persecuting those who listen to them and accusing them of ideological deviation. This happened also with the visual arts, literature, theater, film and dance. All this happened and should not be forgotten, although the same people who banned the Beatles have allowed a statue of John Lennon, years later, in a park in El Vedado. These absurdities rather than enriching our identity and national values, impoverish it.
  5. Now, someone has come to the rescue of the national patrimony with the guayabera, the man’s shirt, widely used in the first half of the twentieth century and then less so. Now the leaders have started to wear it., I think it is a wasted effort, however, for its price (between forty-five and fifty convertible pesos for the linen or cotton ones and fifteen of polyester) are beyond the purchasing reach of the population (representing, in the first case of two to three months’ salary, and the second a month’s) and those who wear them are not exactly the people who the young people and less young people aspire to imitate. Identity and national values are enhanced when there are no restrictions and customs barriers or anything else, and we mix and merge in this global village where, for better or for worse, we must all live together. Isolation does not protect or defend anything. Instead of shields and swords what is needed are open arms.

November 7, 2010