The Fragrance of Sacred Symbols / 14ymedio
Posted on September 29, 2014
14ymedio, Havana, N. Mell – 29 September 2014 – Since an official
statement published in the newspaper Granma last Saturday, rejecting the
planned marketing by the Cuban company Labiofam of perfumes named after
Ernest Guevara and Hugo Chavez, the controversy about who is really
responsible for this “grave error” continues to animate conversations.
The omissions in the statement from the Council of Ministers are very
significant. For example, there is no mention that this business group,
responsible for the production of biopharmaceuticals and chemicals, is
under the Ministry of Agriculture. Instead, it is treated as an organism
of the central state administration. More surprising is the hiding of
the fact that this isn’t the first time they have announced the creation
of perfumes named after personalities connected to the Revolutionary epic.
In its previous Congress, held in September 2012, Labiofam recalled that
“with the objective of diversifying its production and satisfying the
demands of the market,” they had created, in 1994, “the colognes
Alejandro*, Celia and Havana.” The company statement added, without
beating around the bush, “The first two are products with the
allegorical names of figures of the Revolution” (Fidel Castro and Celia
Sanchez). Years later, Labiofam created another cologne named Lina, in
honor of the former president’s mother, Lina Ruz, who was also the
grandmother of Jose Antonio Fraga Castro, CEO of Labiofam.
Fidel and Raul Castro’s nephew has ruled the company with the same
voluntarism that his uncles have ruled the island. There is nothing in
the company that hasn’t been thought up, or at least approved, by him,
including the weekly menu in the workers’ cafeteria. And, even though
the company has fallen short of its planned performance for the last
five years, it has been presented as a model institution of modern times
and its hierarchy as untouchable beings.
It hasn’t been disclosed if the disciplinary measures announced by the
Council of Ministers Executive Committee will seek a scapegoat to save
the reputation of the CEO, or if the flames will reach the top of the
pyramid. There are many threads behind the intrigue, each one pulling in
a different direction.
The ideological and emotional argument that “symbols are sacred”
convinces almost no one, especially in a country where the face of Che
Guevara himself appears tarnishing the national flag in ashtrays where
cigarettes are crushed to extinction. Maybe Labiofam believed that an
independent company is governed more by the rules of marketing than by
the designs of the Party, or maybe the time has come to end a feud over
whose “remains” new interests already have their eyes on.
*Translator’s note: Fidel’s middle name is Alejandro
Source: The Fragrance of Sacred Symbols / 14ymedio | Translating Cuba –