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Cuba Libre

Cuba

As I've said before, when you work in the industry, you tend to look for what we do.

So when I got to Cuba, sadly enough, one of the first things I noticed was the lack thereof. The only billboards in Cuba celebrate socialism, commemorate the revolution, and, like the one above, point out just how much they dislike the USA and Bush in particular.

It was quite refreshing. Like the feeling you get when a loud noise you've acclimatised to suddenly stops. I couldn't help wondering what it would be like if the COI was the only advertiser here and all they ever communicated was patriotic propaganda.

[The COI grew out of the ashes of the wartime Ministry of Information, who did pretty much exactly that:

Formed on September 4th 1939, the day after Britain's declaration of war, the Ministry of Information (MOI) was the central government department responsible for publicity and propaganda in the Second World War. The initial functions of the MOI were threefold: news and press censorship; home publicity; and overseas publicity in Allied and neutral countries.]

Just as I began to enjoy the sounds of silence however, the first jintero, or street hustler, clapped his arm around my shoulders, welcomed me to Cuba and began to expound the virtues of his female siblings to me.

There may not be any brands out there, but someone is always selling something, in this case the oldest profession promoted by the oldest medium.

[Note: The hustlers mainly hang around tourist areas and are not representative of Cubans in general, who are almost absurdly friendly and tolerant of idiocy like mine. It's a shame that the tourist's first experience of one is usually a hustler, leaping into conversations unbidden, as he wanders around looking for a place to stay. Sad if it puts you off talking to anyone in case they are trying to hustle you {"no me moleste, por favor"} as you definitely miss out.

Probably a lesson in the somewhere, for interrupter and interrupted alike.]

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