Paris Hilton, Naomi Campbell Dine with Despotism in Cuba
EspañolBy Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo
Where will US millionaires rush to as soon as they can reconquer Cuba economically? Where do they go now when they sneak through the embargo’s cracks?
The answer is so simple, it may very well disappoint us. Millionaires are like that: ordinary and predictable, their heaps of money notwithstanding. Yankee millionaires will go where they have always been: where they can flirt with power and rub shoulders with the powerful.
Money rules. Freedom for the Cuban people can wait another 56 years.
No one can blame them. Millionaires have rights too, and they should be respected. They have the right, for example, to flaunt their riches on any despotic island that welcomes them.
They must get a thrill out of feeling like they are above the law. For them it’s some kind of orgasmic power play.
The eccentric Paris Hilton and Naomi Campbell are not the first millionaires to land foot on Havana, nor will they be the last. Both models recently rushed to the island to selfie with the Revolution’s remains. Click, flash, tweet, instagrammed.
We saw Paris Hilton, whose grandfather Conrad owned the Habana Hilton that Fidel Castro expropriated decades ago, pose in front of the hotel as if it never happened. She smiled alongside those who negotiated Cuba’s transition toward state capitalism: Fidel Castro Díaz-Balart (son of the retired tyrant Fidel Castro Ruz), Deborah Castro Espín (daughter of the current tyrant Raúl Castro Ruz), and Fidel Castro Smirnov (son of Fidel Castro Díaz-Balart).
This Castroland 2.0 cacophony was a movie set much more glamorous than anything in Hollywood, because horror always produces more profitable scripts and casting — or Castring, in this case.
Like two media fairies, they turned everything they touched into a headline, regardless of the Communist Party’s monopoly over the press.
Naomi Campbell kicked and insulted a reporter waiting for her outside Hotel Nacional. Her barbarian barbie make-up in all her photos made her look like an exaggerated version of a Castro-era mummy. Cuba’s sun and lack of air conditioning can be unforgiving.
Meanwhile, Paris took pictures with huge cigars in halfhearted phallic poses, each with the same annoyed and arrogant look of someone who is eager to collect a paycheck and get the hell out.
Just like Oliver Stone, Campbell was a close friend of the late Hugo Chávez, and was treated to the obligatory tour around “totalitarian island”: the beautiful ruins that so enchant the developed world and their academics. Meanwhile, Paris did another photo session at a popular park near a rotting, feces-filled port in Havana Bay.
Like two media fairies, they turned everything they touched into a headline, despite the Communist Party’s monopoly over the press. Like two plastic princesses, the glow from these modern-day hetaerae trailed their every melodramatic step.
The Cuban people thanked them for the spectacle that allowed them to escape their daily routine, while Cuban exiles were torn between outrage and indifference.
The sooner the United States lifts the embargo, the better. Yankee millionaires demand it, with their finest women, propaganda, and other unsavory elements. As far as the lack of democracy — the pesky little issue that is so passé — the sooner the White House can legitimize the Cuban dictatorship, the better.
So, thank you Paris Hilton. Thank you Naomi Campbell. It’s been one small step for man, and surely one gigantic leap for mankind. Ironically, of all the anti-US places throughout Latin America, it’s the country of capitalist communists where we hear the rallying cry:
Yankees, come home!
Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo is a Cuban writer and photographer, a visiting fellow of the International Writers Project, and an adjunct professor at Brown University. Follow @OLPL and his blog Lunes de Post-Revolución. He collaborates with El Diario de Cuba (Madrid), Sampsonia Way Magazine (Pittsburgh), and El Nacional (Caracas).
Translated by Daniel Duarte. Edited by Guillermo Jimenez and Fergus Hodgson.
Update: March 4, 12:30 p.m. EST.