View From a Height
Commentary from the Mile High City
Tuesday, February 11, 2003
Cuba again. The Wall Street Journal has an uplifting story about four Cuban Coast Guardsmen who, with access to better maritime facilities than a rubber raft or a wooden door, took off for Florida yesterday and made it to the US.

Sadly, the Denver Post doesn't seem to get it. They're running a week-long series on Cuba, and, naturally, things aren't as bad as you've heard. On Sunday, we heard about Cuba's lively arts scene. They have dance, they have music, Castro loves the arts. Cuba is so free-spirited. Never mind that even the most God-forsaken medieval wasteland had singing and dancing. Remember all those Bulgarian choruses in their brightly-colored native garb? They lived in a God-forsaken medieval wasteland up until about 10 years ago, and they had to be guarded 24/7 by men in drab-colored uniforms to make sure they went back.

Ms. Aguilera and Ms. Sweets have mistaken entertainment for The Arts. As a conservative, I resent and dispute the notion that everything is political or politicized. But certainly the arts, to be vital, need to have the potential to make political and social statements. Otherwise, they are a museum, ossified and uncreative, fearful of what statement might offend the authorities. Art, as any port worth his salt will tell you, as any veteran of the 60's Folk Song Army will swear, can threaten power.
And Castro's most ardent defenders would never permit you to think differently if the scene were, say, Miami.

In the true spirit of lip-service, the article mentions to oppression that some say has affected Cuban art. But then the authors are off and running again, talking about Castro's patronage of the arts. Castro does not love the arts. He loves the distraction that entertainment can bring. He loves their entertainment's ability to, in Tom Lehrer's words, "let [them] forget for a while, their drab, wretched lives." Only he was being ironic.

Yesterday, they talked about AIDS. Cuba claims a miniscule rate of infection, but most analysts dispute their numbers. The reporters say that, "while other experts agree, there's no evidence to support their skepticism." Of course, there's no evidence. Good grief, we're talking about a closed society, where certain facts are illegal.

To their credit, the reporters do detail the gulag-like conditions that AIDS patients have to live in. Anyone who thinks that gays in the US have it bad ought to see what theu go through in Cuba. I'm no celebrant of the gay lifestyle, but if the "arrival of the US Dollar and increased tourism in the 90s" helped ease their abuse, then at least it's done some good.

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