For some time now, celebrities have been raining in Havana. We haven’t had a decent rainstorm, but the show-business storm isn’t letting up. And I love it that they’re coming and building bridges, shooting selfies, enjoying this uncomfortable complex of ancient objects….
Let’s see if we understand each other: Cuba is not a socialist theme park, and we don’t dance the Internationale here to the rhythm of rumba; we are not pure lust bathed in mojitos, nor do we go around yelling “Azucar, comrade!” among the ruins, old American cars and socialist surrealism.
Hey, yumas, we’re in the 21st century here, too. The fact that old cars are still running here does not mean we’re frozen in time. There are tablets and smart phones, and we have cross-fit fans, and we had emos and metrosexuals that opened the way for urban tribes of hipsters, swingers, cruisers, bears and so on. And we suffer from globalized cultural silliness, and we enjoy every Cuban success in the Major Leagues. It may be that somebody gets disappointed by this ecumenical, unexpected and eclectic Cuba, but that’s what we are, and that’s how it is.
While we Cubans are far from being that exotic caricature that still used to portray us, it doesn’t bother us to use that stereotype to our advantage for all it’s worth. In addition, nobody can spice up our legend like we can, as the apprentices of Juan Candela, heirs to his fame for telling tall tales. And yes, we do like to think of ourselves as the center of the world, even though daily reality reminds us that we’re not. And that’s for the better….
In any case, many people come in search of a party, and they find it. Mick Jagger had himself photographed together with cars older than him; Annie Leibovitz photographed Rihanna naked in a Cuban tenement building; Katy Perry sang and danced to the “tumbao” of some children; Floyd Mayweather Jr. posed in the ring of a dilapidated underground gym; Julio Iglesias confessed that—why not?—he would like to record an album of boleros in Havana, and even Chanel said that it would bring its Cruise 16/17 collection here.
What we say? We’re in fashion…. Everybody wants to come to discover this city taken off an old postcard, crossing, in the end, the bridge that opened up on Dec. 17, 2014, when Washington and Havana agreed that it was time to get along like good neighbors. Three years ago, Jay-Z y Beyoncé came “incognito” to celebrate their fifth anniversary, but they were not the first international celebrities to do so. Cultural and sports stars have visited us since long before, seduced by the aroma of habanos (Cuban cigars) and one or another tropical cliché.
Cuba has been an intriguing destination for quite a while. But we Cubans like show biz, which is why a bigger stir is caused when we find Paris Hilton taking selfies with the Habana Libre in the background, or John Kerry joking about buying himself an almendrón (old American car) after he retires. A real avalanche in which, unquestionably, a standout was the visit by Pope Francis, charismatic and so close that even the atheists were marked by his humanistic preaching. The Holy Pontiff’s visit made headlines, because he was key to the rapprochement now underway between Cuba and the United States. Something for which many of us had been praying for years, with more hope than faith….
For now, Cubans find it fun to be a trending topic. Many jokingly announced that Obama himself is visiting, from one moment to another, while the question making the rounds is, who will be next?
Beyond the fun, this influx is perhaps the most visible symptom that perhaps something is changing in Cuba, and while salaries, transport and food are still precarious, there is hope that the panorama is clearing up little by little…. For now, isn’t great that we’re in fashion….Let’s enjoy it while it lasts….