Picture postcards drawing attention to human rights violations in Cuba were distributed to tourists bound for Havana in front of the counter of the Cuban state airline, Cubana de Aviación, at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris today, the start of the holiday season in France.
Reporters Without Borders handed out the cards as the first step in a broad public awareness campaign targeted at the French population, above all at the 120,000 French tourists who choose Cuba as a holiday destination each year, drawn by the sun, beaches and mythical appeal of its bearded revolutionaries.
The picture on the postcard recalls the famous May 1968 poster showing a riot policeman with a truncheon in one hand and a shield in the other, but the face has been replaced by Ernesto Che Guevara’s. The caption says: "Welcome to Cuba, the world’s biggest prison for journalists." The text on the back urges the tourists to take an interest in Cuba that goes deeper than "the picture postcard clichés."
Welcome to Cuba
Have you chosen Cuba because of the charm of its population, its dreamy beaches, its rum and its fast-paced rhythms? You should know where you are going! Behind the picture postcard clichés, the sun doesn’t shine for everyone in the land of the Revolution. "Che" is nowadays just an icon used by the authorities to legitimise repression.
Seventy-five dissidents, including nearly 30 journalists, were arrested at the end of March 2003 and sentenced to long prison terms. Their crime? Thinking differently from the government. As a result, Cuba has become the world’s biggest prison for journalists.
These government opponents, poets, journalists and human rights activists are held in Havana, Ciego de Avila, Camagüey, Holguín and Santiago de Cuba. If you visit these towns, don’t forget those who are not enjoying the sun inside their prison cells.
Reporters Without Borders will also conduct a poster campaign with the same picture as part of the drive to make the French public aware of the serious human rights situation in Cuba. A total of 1,100 posters of 40 cm x 60 cm in size will be displayed in Paris from 8 to 22 July by the Art Vision network.
Designed by the Rampazzo agency, the poster aims to tell people that behind the myth of the Cuban revolution, which still draws many tourists, there is a totalitarian regime that uses "Che" as an icon to legitimise repression. The poster also suggests that a myth that fed the dreams of an entire generation in the 1960s has become what that generation hated: a police state.