This morning, I visited the U.S. Embassy in London to apply for a visa. And as I was queueing outside and admiring the imposing building, I remembered a joke I was told in Cuba last year.
There is a life-size statue in front of the U.S. Embassy in Havana (that was the U.S. Interests Section Office since 1977 until it resumed its role last summer) that represents a man holding a child and pointing with the finger at the Embassy.
From the perspective of the Cuban authorities, this is a harsh accusation against American imperialism: the man is national hero Jose Martí, and he holds Elián González, a Cuban boy who was rescued in 1999 by the U.S. Coast Guard after his mother and other boat passengers drowned while attempting to reach American soil.
It took 8 months, anti-U.S. protests and rallies, the creation of the Anti-Imperialist platform, and exasperated intervention from the Cuban authorities to get the boy to return to Cuba. With this statue, Cuba’s national hero vehemently attacks U.S. Imperialism.
But Cubans (not the authorities but the people) have humour, and they’re really good at sarcasm. So when they look at this statue of a father and a son pointing at the American Embassy, they imagine he says: “Look, that’s where we’ll get our visas!”