“I always compare socialism and capitalism to two rooms. Socialism is a room with a solid floor, without traps or holes, mines, or quicksand, but the ceiling is only at 1 meter, and you can’t go any higher.” says a young resident in Cuba today. “Capitalism is also a room, but there are caimans, poisonous snakes, spiders, mines, holes, traps, and only walls. There is no roof, you can climb as high as you want or can knowing that you may fall down forever. For a long time, the state protected the Cubans from this fall, but without allowing them to climb up.”
The words come from a documentary entitled El Futuro Es Hoy (The Future is Today). Strong words from a resident who has recently seen half a million layoffs in 2011 and is now immersed in a new Cuban society with hundreds of thousands new business licenses granted by the government encouraging small business enterprises. Ultimately, it’s a transition from “The State” to the “Individual” for Cuba in 2011… entering the mouth of capitalism… and they’re not afraid of it.
Although the documentary, was released in 2009 by Canal Documental TV, it’s still a pretty good ride into the mind of modern day Cuba. The premise is simple, follow 7 residents of Cuba in 2007. The conversations with Director Sandra Gómez feel quite open-hearted and natural. “Everyone is on standby” says another character, “a waiting period to see how the game ends”.
Says another character in the doc: “The Cubans could have more freedom and more choice. I think we are not used to making decisions. At the beginning many people will abstain. But perhaps it’ll be the opposite. After so many years with a leader deciding on the fate of the nation, we may accept that we are grown up, and decide that it is time to choose for ourselves what we really want to do.”
In any case, the film is a fine specimen of current “word on the street” today in Cuba. It’s not an angry film, nor is it confrontational… it is simply honest, heartfelt, and melancholic in nature. Director Sandra Gómez has managed to accomplish something quite difficult, that is to show both the joyous complexity of Cuban culture mixed with the hardships and conundrums that the Cuban revolution has presented to a generation in transition.
The title of the film, The Future is Today, resonates more this month now that the Congress of the Communist Party is convening literally this month in Cuba. The local Cubans are waiting baited breath for further reforms to be announced mid month.
To see the full movie in Spanish (running time 35 minutes), go to El Futuro Es Hoy on Vimeo.
For the English speakers, you can see a subtitled piece of the film (running time 20 minutes) here on AlJazeera.com