The Man Who Gives Color to Cuban Activism / Luis Felipe Rojas

Poster by Rolando Pulido

That poster in support of Orlando Zapata, Antonio Rodiles or Yoani Sánchez, which you are about to “Like” on Facebook and share with your friends, was designed by a man from Cienfuegos who lives in New York. Rolando Pulido came to the United States twenty years ago and since then has worked as a sign-painter and graphic artist in the Big Apple. Passionate about the cause of freedom and democracy in Cuba, he has created more than 500 posters to promote various causes of Cuban civil society,  events and campaigns to gain the release of prisoners. His activism has put color and motif on many Cuban spaces on social networks.

Luis Felipe Rojas: The digital siteCapitol Hill Cubanshas just implemented a campaign for free access to internet for all Cubans, #FreeTheCuban11Million and you have made the poster. What inspired you this time?

Rolando Pulido

Rolando Pulido

Rolando Pulido: This was a campaign that my friend Mauricio Clavel, who maintains the blog Capitol Hill Cubans, gave birth to in Washington DC. He gave me the idea and I was immediately fascinated, it seemed a tremendous idea, one we could do a lot with, and I made this graphic immediately. It was released yesterday to a huge response.

It is a campaign that we’re launching more from Twitter. Is to free the 11 million Cubans who do not have Internet. It’s a campaign countering the one for the five spies, in which the Cuban government has spent a fortune, a tone of energy and immense resources. Right now in Washington DC there is a large group of people calling on the U.S. Government to release the “Cuban Five,” they have enthralled all those people. I think it’s time to turn the tables on them. So instead of Free Five Cubans, we have #FreeTheCuban11Million.

Look, what we are doing is advertising, they counter the advertising based on lies, on things that are not true. We have a pretty big media campaign, but in favor of the democratization of Cuba, on behalf of the freedom of our country. This is a tool that works well if you know how to use it, especially if you have the truth and you have so many millions of people who understand that and support you.

In this time of the digital era, graphics and other arts are part of an ever wider river, are you afraid that your art will be lost?

Not at all, I do this especially for Facebook, for a community looking for these things. I do it there, because to navigate in that sea, and to travel far, because it’s a message I want to give to you through the graphics. I have no fear, because the vast sea has many Cuban ports, and until then will offer my posters.

You have led several campaigns, which do you think has been the most successful for you?

No doubt it was the first, in 2009, with a friend I called for a virtual prayer for Orlando Zapata when he was involved in his hunger strike. We prepared, we launched it and right there I realized the number of Cubans everywhere who want to help, from every corner. Since then I have made over 500 posters because I came to the United States working as a sign painter, but new technological tools have allowed me to do other things.

Facebook has been blamed in a thousand ways. However, we have seen campaigns that have come to fruition, you are on the same path, what do you think?

I see everything as a great campaign that we are all conducting for the freedom of Cuba. There are others, I am not alone, many people in the world are doing something, we are creating events together, doing all sorts of things, but we are more united than ever thanks to the new technologies and tools like Facebook and Twitter.

And right now, what is your latest project?

In a few hours or maybe tomorrow I will release a poster because Ignacio Estrada Cepero and Wendy Iriepa want to come to the United States to promote the rights of LGBT people in Cuba. They are very active within the island and it is necessary that their voice is heard around the world, they have very interesting things to say and we have to listen. We will release the poster, to see if it can help raise funds for the trip of these two beautiful people who will say and tell us things that happen in Cuba and we must help them.

7 June 2013