TXT / PHOTO: ERNESTO OROZA
In 1989, when the fall of the socialist bloc became evident and the United States embargo on the island intensified, Cuba was left dangling on its own economic resources. Until then, the country had experienced its best ten years, and so the crisis took on an even greater dimension. Local industry collapsed and imports from socialist markets dropped, according to official reports, by 86%. Cubans watched their material world dissipate de facto. The responsibility to uphold life and family had fallen into their own hands.
On studying how Cubans invent and repair their objects to get by the economic restrictions, some patterns of behaviour have surfaced toward technology and above all the authority and supposed precision of Western products.
Productive practices at the beginning of the ‘90s were basically recuperative from an old and inadequate domestic situation. Cubans hoped to achieve the creation of a substitute: a transitory object or solution that would help solve their problem until the ‘Special Period’ ended. As the years passed, they gained confidence, and creativity embraced housing, transport, clothing, appliances and any sector that required intervention.
As they reinvented life, something unconscious was beginning to take shape as a mentality. From opening so many bodies, surgeons become desensitized to wounds, blood and death. And this is the Cuban’s first expression of disobedience toward these objects: disrespect for the identity of the product and the authority and precision imposed by this identity. From opening them so much, repairing them and taking them to pieces, Cubans ended up disregarding the signs that make Western products a closed unit.
These days, it doesn’t matter if the product is Sony, Swatch or made by NASA. If it’s broken, he will fix it. If it can be used to repair another object, he will take it as well, either in pieces or as a whole.
+ information pág. 80-85 The H Book 2008 09