An Innocent Caricature

The cartoonist reveals what the tabloid hides and I warn that I do not think he did it with a subversive spirit. (Alfredo Martirena Hernández)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 14 September 2020 — It takes time and consumes energy to analyze the special tabloid Cuba and its economic and social challenge, prepared by the Ministry of Economy and Planning, where the strategy is outlined “to boost the economy and face the global crisis caused by Covid- 19.” Reading the title is already boring.

Perhaps it is more significant to look closely at a cartoon signed by Martirena (Alfredo Martirena Hernández) that illustrates the text and that shows an official in front of a graph that reflects the behavior of the national economy.

The cartoonist reveals what the tabloid hides and I warn that I do not think he did it with a subversive spirit.

The description of the official drawn here is that of a man close to 50 years old, notably overweight, wearing one of those guayaberas that typify the members of the official nomenclature. The bluish-gray color of his skin, the closed eyes and the expressionless lips reflect a person devoid of conviction, obedient and at the same time despotic.

With his right hand the bureaucrat presses against his chest the documents where the plans of the national economy are supposed to be detailed: the mass of information that gives him power and authority. In his left hand, he holds a red arrow that is used as a growth vector in statistical graphs.

The arrow has three ascending and two descending “moments,” but the latter never coincide in their fall with the starting point of the previous ascent. It is a climb with breaks, but continuous. It is the graphic reflection of triumphalism and, to top it all, its upward trend depends on the position in which, at will, the official places the arrow controlled by his left hand. Thus, in addition to being triumphant, the scene reflects another of the evils that characterize the actions of those who rule in Cuba: voluntarism.

All that and more is present in the concepts exposed in this special tabloid, where “details” are skipped over, how to explain how and when the monetary unification will finally take effect, and where are the long-awaited details on the reality for small and medium-sized companies. “The steps will be initiated,” for their establishment and, at the current stage, “the indicators to be taken into account will be defined.”

Here, the “fine print” appears at the end as a reward for those who read it all. There they are, insolent and disrespectful, the first lines of the conclusions where it is noted that “the implementation of this Strategy will lead us to be in more favorable conditions for the analysis that must be carried out at the 8th Congress of the PCC,” which, as is known, will take place, if the pandemic allows it, in April 2021.

I invite scholars to continue looking carefully at the illustrations, not only the one that is dissected here, but also the one in which the Island appears hanging from a balloon inflated with hearts; another, where Cuba is represented as the filaments of a light bulb, that is, a “lantern”; another that shows a worker in need of binoculars to see the salary issue; and even one where the same gray official must turn off his brain in order to save fuel.

I don’t know if I’m looking at everything with bad intentions, or if it’s because I learned to read before the Revolution.

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An Innocent Caricature