Thursday, 21 April 2011

Cuba's Communist Party, Camaguey

After much delay, the Partido Comunista de Cuba (Cuba's Communist Party) gathered on April 16 for its sixth conference (the fifth one had taken place in 1997). Although the news of Fidel Castro's retirement as first secretary and his replacement by his 'younger' brother Raúl, and the proposal to introduce a term limit of two five-year periods to rejuvenate the leadership of the Revolution grabbed the headlines, it is the far-reaching economic reforms formulated in the policy paper Guidelines to Social and Economic Policy that have been occupying the delegates' minds and are of particular concern to Cubans. Not all proposals included have been made public but the aim is to liberalise the economy and increase further the role of private initiative at the expense of the state after the first reforms in that sense adopted last year by the government. In other words, this will open a new chapter in the economic history of the island. If you want to know more about these reforms, you can always check the press or, even better, come from September to the courses on Latin America at the City Lit in London (yes, I know, that's some shameless promotion).
Anyway, this sixth conference gives me the opportunity to post a sign representing the logo of Cuba's Communist Party. Although many walls are decorated with the symbols of the Unión de Jóvenes Comunistas (Youth Communist League) and of the Comités de Defensa de la Revolución (Committees for the Defense of the Revolution), the logo of the PCC is rarely represented in the streets of the island.

The logo was designed by Cuban painter Orlando Yanes and presented when the PCC was officially founded on October 3, 1965. It is based on a picture taken on April 16, 1961 at a ceremony organised in the Vedado area of Havana to honour and bury the seven victims killed the day before during an air attack by anti-revolutionary forces on two airfields near Havana (Santiago de Cuba's airport, in the east, was also targeted. These attacks prepared the ground for the Bay of Pigs invasion on April 17). In front of the crowd gathered at the corner of streets 12 and 23, Fidel declared:
What the imperialists will never forgive us for is that we are here, they will never forgive us because of the dignity, firmness, courage, ideological conviction, sacrifice and revolutionary spirit of the Cuban people. That is why they will not forgive us, he added, ...and that we have carried out a socialist Revolution in front of their eyes!
The picture captured the enthusiastic reaction of the crowd to these words: thousands of people raised their fists and brandished their weapons, showing their determination to repel their enemy at any cost. Yanes placed this powerful image into a red rectangle and added above the weapons a red banner, symbol of the working class and of the communist nature of the party, and the Cuban flag. Normally the acronym of the party is painted red with a white outline, rather than plain white as on the wall above.

Location: Avenidad de los Martires, Camaguey / Picture taken on: 30/03/2010

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