navidades, consumo, nacionalismo y revolución

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Navidades de 1961. Imagen tomada del muro de FB de EtnoCuba.

Navidades de 1961. Imagen tomada del muro de FB de EthnoCuba.

En Louis A. Pérez. 1999. On Becoming Cuban: Identity, Nationality, and Culture. NC: University of North Carolina Press:

Artist María Luisa Ríos criticized the reproduction of northern scenes as the representation of Christmas. “We Cuban painters do not have need to seek inspiration in foreign motives to create nativity scenes,” asserted Ríos. “In Cuba there exist untapped motives waiting for the magic of lines and color to shape them on the canvas.” (p. 474)

Holidays were transformed. The celebration of Thanksgiving was suspended. Christmas changed. New emphasis was given to the celebration of a “Cuban Christmas,” which signified the revival of Spanish traditions and the consumption of Cuban products. Fifty years earlier, the means of expressing Cuban involved replacing Spanish customs with North American ones. In 1959 the affirmation of Cuban implied rejection of North American practices for Spanish ones. Merchants, retailers, and advertisers were exhorted to emphasize Kings Day (January 6) as more consistent with Cuban customs. . . .  Carpentier called for te rejection of Santa Claus and the Christmas tree as practices “alien to our traditions.” Roberto Fernandez Retamar agreed . . . The time had come to banish Santa Claus –“difficult to pronounce”– from the “Cuban Christmas” and restore the three wise men. (p. 485)

On the occasions where Santa Claus did appear, his beard was often colored black to resemble a barbudo. The Ministry of Commerce discouraged merchants from importing Christmas trees, Christmas decorations, candies, and other merchandise associated with “traditions foreign to the nation.” The only exception to the ban on foreign imports was the Spanish candy turrón , which was permitted, as it formed part of the “true Spanish-Cuban traditions.” (p. 486)

En Llilian Guerra. 2012. Visions of Power in Cuba: Revolution, Redemption, and Resistance, 1959-1971. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press:

Cuba’s National Institute of Culture, headed by former Ortodoxo Party stalwart Dr. Vicentina Antuña, developed plans to “cubanize” Christmas through politically engaged, commercial means. Cubans had made a “consumerist” not a “communist” Revolution, Antuña’s plan appeared to say. Given Cuba’s international context, expressing Christmas joy itself could be considered revolutionary. With this in mind, INRA’s paid advertisements promoted decorative ideas that deliberately politicized the serving of eggs and chicken (which Beef-loving Cubans apparently disdained for not being real “meat”). Now produced by state-managed cooperatives, displaying these products at holiday meals nt only showed one’s revolutionary stripes but also ensured that state ownership would succeed. In nationalizing their tastes, most Cubans needed little encouragement. In December 1959, Cuban families uncorked bottles of Cuban wines rather than imported varieties for the first time in living memory, while poor neighborhoods took up special collections to buy outdoor Christmas decorations to adorn their blocks.

An additional dimension of the National Institute of Culture’s cubanization of Christmas campaign included the publication of Cuba’s first truly national cookbook. Once again, if buying Cuban and giving Cuban made you more Cuba and therefore, more revolutionary, so did eating Cuban. Featuring recipes from all regions, the book was meant for women in the capital who rarely ventured into the campo and therefore had never discovered its culinary delights. Symbolic of their peasant origins, featured recipes in the book had delightfully ironic names, such as three styles of making the desert matahambre (hunger-killer) (two of which are labeled “traditional”), another recipe called matarrabia (rage-killer) as well as a Caibarién fisherman’s favorite dish, salsa de perro (sauce of a dog). Thus, Recetas Cubanas not only represented the national integration and embrace of the campo into the culture, identity, and kitchens of urban Cubans but also demonstrated how the socioeconomic injustices of the past had deprived affluent habaneros of the beauty of rural culture and its rustic customs.

Maximun expression of revolutionary consumerism could be found in the government campaign to influence the nature of holiday gift shopping. As one reporter put it, “The idea of fusing universal celebration of the birth of Christ with cubanía [is] certainly very patriotic.” In November 1959, officials announced a fair to exhibit different gift ideas for Christmas that would be held at Havana’s prestigious Museo de Bellas Artes on El Prado. Although a few foreign-named franchises like Sears and Escarpines Gold Seal were included, organizers focused on soliciting donations of items for a “Cuban Christmas” from all of the capital’s locally owned department stores and they also contacted Cuban-owned manufacturers such as Muñecas Lili, Camisetas Perro, and Bacardí’s Hatuey beer division. All items displayed had to be Cuban-made.

Not originally intended to solicit individual donations, the campaign nonetheless inspired citizens to donate their own handicrafts to the fair. After all, what could be more “Cuban” than a gift not made by a machine but by a real life Cuban? Organizers seemed to agree. (p. 97)

En Cubadebatepor Antonio Núñez Jiménez (tomado de En marcha con Fidel):

Muy lejos de Soplillar, un automóvil sale de la Capital. En él viaja Fidel Castro, Primer Ministro del Gobierno Revolucionario. Atravesamos ciudades y pueblos, todos igualmente engalanados con cubanísimas pencas de palmas reales, las casas con bandera y a lo largo de las calles, una profusión de guirnaldas de colores, adornos navideños. Al paso de Fidel, la gente le extiende su saludo emocionado. Todos quieren estrechar su mano, expresarle su apoyo a la Revolución. Son las primeras Navidades libres de Cuba.

En Cubadebate, del mismo texto: La Nochebuena de Fidel con los carboneros:

. . . Es el día de Nochebuena y hay que preparar la cena y traer las cosas de la bodega. Ademas, Rogelio debe pedir la liquidación a la Cooperativa. Quiere comprarales ropa a los muchachos y a Pilar “para que deje de ponerse ese ripio punzó”.

Juntos abandonan la finca Santa Teresa, antiguo latifundio, ahora propiedad del pueblo carbonero. Atraviesan un trillo hasta el campo de aterrizaje, obra construida por el INRA y, siguen la amplia calzada del aeródromo.Llegan a Soplillar. Pasan la escuelita remozada, pintada de verde claro; las casas de madera, adornadas con papelitos de colores, indican la alegría reinante.

Rogelio y Carlos se abren paso hasta el mostrador de la Tienda del Pueblo para cobrar el dinero que la Cooperativa les adeuda y comprar los víveres de la Nochebuena Carmelo Hernández, el administrador, le extiende a Carlos un cheque. No lo cambie, paga con lo que le ha quedado de meses anteriores y comenta que antes el cobro de los carboneros sólo servía para pagar lo consumido y abonar los abusivos intereses. La lista de precios que cuelga de la pared es elocuente: al aumentar los jornales del carbonero casi al doble y reducirse el costo de la vida, el nivel económico en la ciénaga se eleva en pocos meses.

Una hora después de su entrada en la Tienda del Pueblo, Rogelio y Carlos, con sendos sacos repletos de víveres, turrones y otros dulces para sus hijos, regresan a sus hogares.

. . .

-¡Que diferencia! Hace un año los amarillos vinieron a llevarme la lechona y me mataron a un sobrino que todavía nadie sabe donde lo enterraron. Señores, ¡esto ha vuelto a nacer!.

. . .

-Cuando ustedes luchaban en las montañas, para serles franco, no creía que esta Revolución iba ser tan pura. ¡Eran tantas las decepciones del pasado! Yo conozco como nadie la ciénaga y ahorita no se va a conocer. En Soplillar ya hay ciento cuarenta y ocho cooperativas, en Buenaventura ciento noventa y en Pálpite pasan de ochenta. Y a eso, súmele las carreteras, las playas, las Tiendas del Pueblo.

Antes de las doce de la noche ya todos estamos sentados frente a una mesa de rústicas tablas donde se coloca el lechón asado, una fuente de yuca, la ensalada de lechuga y rábanos y el arroz blanco. El vino es de frutas cubanas y los turrones comprador en la Tienda del Pueblo han sido producidos en el país.

Texto tomado por Cubadebate de Núñez Jiménez, Antonio (1982). En marcha con Fidel. Habana: Letras Cubanas.

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