Cuba occupies the space of a continent in the world’s collective imaginary. Despite the isolation caused by its geographic location and its sociopolitical situation it still fascinates and captivates people as if it were constantly in the lime light.
A shroud of myth and legend combined with magic realism permeates its many facades, and a star studded cast of icons both heroic and tyrannical adorn its history. Cuba’s turbulent and astonishing history is shaped by a succession of mythical events, a good example is the poetic and tragic fate of the father of its independence, after having put the wheels of revolution in motion with nothing but the stroke of his pen, Jose Marti was killed the first time he took a sword to fight for liberty. The American occupation and exploitation of the island buttressed by the brutal and despotic rule of Batista that could be seen as a twisted fable, ended by the legendary and improbable socialist revolution started by Castro, set off amidst disastrous first attempts. The fact that Castro’s socialist revolution has managed to survive just a few dozen kilometers from the world’s biggest power and the global hub of capitalism for more than five decades is also the stuff from which legends are made. The mythical comes in the Christ like figure of Che Guevara, an icon engendered by the struggle that lives on as a symbol of struggle and resistance for anti-imperialism fighters all over the world. Certainly the brave and resourceful resistance of the Cuban people throughout decades of deprivation and isolation brought on by the embargo, and the political oppression carried out by Castro’s government to safe guard the revolution, is mythical in its own right.
Surrounded by the array of social problems that afflict many other Latin American nations, Cuba seems to live in a whole different dimension. The absence of misery and the tranquility one breaths in the country seems unconceivable even in some developed western nations, and the atmosphere created by the outdated infrastructure and machinery all combine to create the feeling of a life that unfolds in spurts of magical realism.
© Daniel Botelho