Friday, December 26, 2008

Cuba: the End of Enchantment

One of the things that struck me the first time I visited Cuba Nostalgia was the complete mock-up of the facade of the El Encanto at the fete. I was further surprised to find that there was an alumni club of sorts composed of onetime employees of the famous Havana department store. It's as if there were a fraternal order of ex-employees of Macys. I was reminded of this when I stumbled on this Miami Herald article which posits the burning of El Encanto as symbolic of the end of an era. Reading it, a light bulb when on over my head. Suppose someone read it but substituted "Macys" for the original. See how the substitution would change your perception of the following:

[John Smith] said that soon after [the new administration], the store gave the impression of operating normally. But gradually some employees embraced the revolution and some even showed up for work wearing guerrilla fatigues. ["Purification"] or ''ideological cleansing'' committees were set up to weed out employees who were not enthusiastic about the revolution, said [a former employee].

Victims of ["Purification"] committees such as [John Smith] often got additional scrutiny by colleagues and supervisers.

These were just the beginnings of the Big Brother state. I guess that's what amazes me when Americans, particularly artists, applaud a system they would find abhorrent if inflicted on them.

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