Monday, November 3, 2008

Show-offs

Juventud Rebelde published a long article, first of a series, about “ostentatious” Cubans. It describes people with gold jewelry, fancy clothes and cell phones, loud demands for service in restaurants, and a “this city is ours” attitude.

It’s treated as a sociological problem – the headline is “Those mistaken people” – and includes interviews with a psychologist and other professors who talk about confusing material well-being with accomplishment and self-worth. The “challenges for Cuban socialism in the decades to come will not be simply economic, but also, and above all, political, i.e. cultural,” the article concludes.

[Illustration from Juventud Rebelde.]

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

And what you think, Phil? Is it possible to separate Economy from Politics????

Anonymous said...

It's not just the Cuban's on the island. You can often pick out the Cuban Americans visiting because they are laden in gold chains, rings and teeth. I always thought they were just trying to show off to the people back home, but it's true that a lot of young people on the island are doing the same. However, this is only the tip of the iceberg for cultural problems facing Cuba in the future. One of the largest being the culture of stealing from your employer which is widely accepted most often with collusion amongst all the employees. What happens if one day a big chain like Walmart comes to Cuba and quickly experiences 30% shrinkage due to theft no matter the level of security? The whole situation will make for some very interesting modern anthropological research someday.

Anonymous said...

Although there is no simple reason for this phenomenon, I think its rooted in the fact that historically you had representatives of the state (bosses, CDR, etc.) that commanded all the respect with everyone else acting timid and guarded; then foreigners started showing up and they also received a lot of respect and attention. In Cuba foreigner = money; therefore in some Cubans' minds: a show of material wealth = the same entitlement to respect and attention as foreigners.
Just my amateur sociologist opinion.

Anonymous said...

For some reason Juventud Rebelde doesn't seem interested in griping about all those kids from the families of the "revolutionary elite" who go abroad and open well-funded busienesses.

Anonymous said...

do you have any evidence of those businesses?

Anonymous said...

maybe they are just a bunch of tourists who we are told are going to magically transform Cuba into a Jeffersonian democracy...

Jennifer said...

Is this really a social problem? I see people flaunting wealth everywhere in different ways. This particular fashion trend has existed in Miami for a long time too.

I don't think you can legitimately associate a style of dress with personality characteristics. If anything, isn't this sort of a natural reaction to Cuba's historic emphasis on "equality"? Look at the fascination with consumerism in China after its economic liberalization.

Anonymous said...

Hey Anon who questions the existence of the lavishly funded businesses owned by "hijos de papas revolucionarios"
abroad! Check out Ravsberg's blog, dude:

"Ser ,hijos de papá, les permitía, incluso les permite todavía, prerrogativas que no tienen el resto de los mortales. Necesitaría páginas enteras de este blog para escribir sobre todos los privilegios de estos niños...

"Claro que no alcanzaría con tener colegas en todas las provincias de Cuba, también deberíamos enviar periodistas a otros países, a aquellos donde viven algunos de estos personajes, remotos lugares en los que invierten su dinero en rentables negocios...."