Sunday, September 23, 2007

Endless money forms the sinews of war

Foreign Debt /IMF (International Monetary Fund)

From now on, depressions will be scientifically created.
Congressman Charles A. Lindbergh Sr. , 1913

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is an international organization that oversees the global financial system by observing exchange rates and balance of payments, as well as offering financial and technical assistance. Its headquarters are located in Washington, D.C., USA”. This is an unsophisticated quote from Wikipedia, which certainly does not describe why Jesus is crucified on the USD sign with the IMF abbreviation on the poster above.

At the Bretton Woods conference in 1944 the formation of International Monetary Fund and International Bank of Reconstruction and Development was point one on the agenda. Next year the first 29 UN-countries signed Articles of Agreement which brought to life these two organizations. The official purpose of IMF and IBRD was “to end economical nationalism, which was slowing down the post war economical reconstruction and development”. They were aiming at “encouraging open markets” with “lowering barriers to trade” as well as prohibition of economical restrictions imposed by local governments.

And in fact this opened the new era of colonialism in the world. Before IMF colonies were sucked dry by the dominions because they lacked the arms and the power. IMF brought money into the equation. The main idea of IMF was to state United States Dollar as the one and only reserve currency through which all local currencies could be pegged to gold, thus making them secure. And as USD is the currency of the United States all American companies were automatically privileged compared to the local businesses based on the local money. IMF’s policy was protectionist – third world countries with poor economies weakened by revolutions were forced to get credits from IMF on conditions which led to complete devastation of old economic relations, pauperization of the people and global privatization of the property. This happened in Russia, in Bolivia, Argentina and in many other places around the world. This is why more and more countries nowadays decide to limit the presence of foreign capital in the economy. Cuba is one of them.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

If smoking is not allowed in heaven, I shall not go - Mark Twain

Juan Antonio Gomez
Happiness in the Tobacco Fields – 1984-85 Harvest
1984 EP (DOR)

Tobacco has always been the most valuable resource of Cuba. The first plantations were set up in the 18th century and rapidly expanded over the island. For many years tobacco has been the second exportable product of Cuba after sugar.

Cuban cigars were always noted as probably the best in the whole world. No wonder it was Cuba which became the source for tobacco seeds for other areas like Philippines.

After the WW2 the USA was the main market for Cuban tobacco, which to greatest disappointment of American smoking connoisseurs expired due to the embargo. USSR turned up and started purchasing the cigars instead. Russian stores, which could not boast of much food and goods on the shelves, had stacks of perfect Cuban cigars and quality rum to offer. They were mildly priced, which allowed soviet citizens to fully enjoy the genuine Cuban goods. Also it was rumored that American embassy officials were purchasing large boxes of cigars and sending them by diplomatic mail to the USA, profiting greatly by the scheme.

The poster above celebrates the great tobacco harvest of 1984—85. Now the vintage cigars rolled of the tobacco year 1984 cost thousands of dollars on the market.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The road is long and full of difficulties.

International week of solidarity with Latin America
A. Perez, 1970

After the WW2 the colonial empires in Africa, Asia and Latin America started to weaken and finally expired in the seventies. But after getting rid of the exploiter’s regimes the former colonies faced a great problem of underdevelopment, as the metropolitan states had been sucking resources for their own benefit only. While the Cold War was raging both the USA and the Soviet Union were trying to impose influence on countries which had internal economical problems and could choose either “capitalist” or “socialist” way of development. And although this promised great benefits, the Latin American countries were trying to help each other on their own, understanding that sometimes free foreign aid costs too much.

The week of solidarity was an event which was uniting the countries of Latin America. There were demonstrations, festivals, meetings, protest actions organized worldwide by the leftist political forces. Also during this week common people were gathering funds and humanitarian aid. The poster above shows the South American continent as a hand holding a rifle tight, declaring that Latin American countries can stick up for themselves.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

It's clobberin' time!

Youth Friendship Games
Estela Dias, 1971 EP for INDER

Wrestling and boxing are highly popular in Cuba. Lots of Cuban sportsmen became champions worldwide - a fencer Ramon Fonst, an amateur boxer Teofilo Stevenson, hero athlet Alberto Juantorena.

There are many clubs and training facilities operating in Cuba. Making a good career in sport is definitely an option for many a young Cuban boys, not to mention the joy of winning itself. INDER is a National Institute of Sports, Physical Education, and Recreation which supervises the development of sport in Cuba. One of its main activities is organization of Youth Friendship Games, where young talents could get admission to the competitions of higher level. And of course an event of such scale could not live without a colorful and energetic poster.

Water is the source of life!

Faustino Perez
Save it, 1983 EP

This is an amazing graphic work which calls upon water saving. It was created for Columbia's Podder's Popular (People Power) - a political organization emerged from the Liberal Party of Columbia. Supposedly it was also displayed in Cuba as the problem of water saving was also acute there.

Various shortages occurred after the great embargo had been imposed on Cuba in 1962 as a result of confiscation of property of the USA citizens and corporations on the island. USSR did its best to replace the valuable trade relations with the USA by providing subsidies and trade preferences in return for the loyalty to the communist ideology. Nevertheless this was not enough and finally the infrastructure wore out and the shortages started to happen.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Life is short... running makes it seem longer.

Artist Unknown, 1970s, ICAIC (Instituto Cubano del Arte y la Industria Cinematográficos)

This is a bright poster, which announces a documentary by Luis Felipe Bernaza about a Cuban sports hero, Alberto Juantorena. He is a former Cuban track athlete.

In 1973 he won the 400m at the World University Games in Moscow, and the following year he headed the world rankings, with a time of 44.7sec recorded at Turin on 24 July. In 1975, he produced the second-fastest time of the year, 44.80sec, when he finished second at the Pan-American Games in Mexico City on 18 August.

In 1976 at the Montreal Olympics Juantorena made it to the final of 400m, and led the field for most of the race, eventually winning in a world record time of 1:43.50. Three days later, he also won the 400 m final, setting a low-altitude world record of 44.26. Winning in two running disciplines during the same event was an amazing achievement, which gave Alberto his nickname El Caballo (the horse in Spanish).

Monday, August 20, 2007

A Chess Fight!

Army Chess Tournament
Israel Fundora, 1973

Army has always been a pride of Cuba. Its independence was brought up on arms, so munitions’ images occur frequently being part of everyday life. And it’s really interesting that very often these instruments of death are pictured in a positive way.

Take this poster. It announces a chess tournament staged during the 10th Cuban Army Festival in 1973 in Havana – the capital of Republic of Cuba. The idea of blending a classic F1 hand grenade with a chess knight is simply brilliant. The eye-catching palette also adds up to the magnetic impression of this poster.

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