Havana’s Unchecked Flyer Epidemic
October 6, 2014
Vicente Morin Aguado
HAVANA TIMES — The Cuban capital is being invaded by a new form of
pollution that spreads quickly and causes much damage to the city’s
appearance. I am referring to the many flyers, in black and white or
living color, that are posted wherever there is room to do so. Through
these, Havana is practically being sold piecemeal.
The city has become the victim of a mad, somewhat wild form of
“marketing”, whose concrete manifestation, I say without hyperbole, are
perhaps millions of printed flyers offering houses, furniture sets,
tickets to a concert (whose star is often a young musician looking for
exposure) -in short, anything from an ice-cream dispenser to the repair
of a household appliance in one’s own home.
The cause of this new plague of information are people’s commercial
interests, introduced into the neuronal mechanisms of a high percentage
of Cuba’s population years ago – and, given the population density in
the island’s capital, the situation has become alarming. Almost everyone
wants to sell something in Havana.
The spread of this new disease is encouraged by digital means, capable
of printing advertisements en masse and of giving quick expression to
the imagination of Cuba’s new entrepreneurs.
The preferred places where these devilish flyers are left are next to
public telephones, on bus stops and at the entrance of a shopping
center. If no other space is available, even street lights are used. The
number of noxious organisms is so large, and the vehicles for their
transmission so many, that there are simply not enough spots where the
many ads can be posted.
When I say “vehicles for transmission”, I am not being metaphorical. The
fact of the matter is that the people who post these ads are paid to
carry out this mission: they receive money from others or do it
When it comes to the transmission of this new disease, there is no
shortage of ill-intent: flyers can be placed on top of others, annulling
the effects of those thus covered up. Sometimes, the “vehicle” tears the
ad in question angrily, especially when it is from a competitor, killing
two birds with one stone: eliminating the competition while advertising
their own product.
I want to remind you of my previous comments as to the key areas where
these ads are posted, and the fact these have spread to all spaces where
the flyers can be left behind. Don’t forget that, at these key
locations, printed ads tend to multiply, some kill others, in short,
they grow like a tumor, hungrily taking up more and more of the
Lastly, a new mechanism by which the flyers that would sell Havana
piecemeal is spreading has becoming truly alarming. I am referring to
the flyers that are handed directly to pedestrians by people hired to do so.
It is clear that people don’t have enough money to meet their basic
daily needs, that the rules applied to licensed businesses are tough and
that one is forced to use an easy, direct and cheap way of advertising
(be it an apartment, a furniture set, computers, etc.). At this pace,
however, I fear that we will soon run out of things to sell and that,
worse still, we will enter into a vicious re-selling cycle, a veritable
Morally, it is difficult to condemn those who make an effort to overcome
the obstacles that our tough reality has imposed on them, but the
harmful effects these practices have on the city are undeniable, and
garbage collectors have more and more work to do every day in Havana’s
To continue speaking in epidemiological terms, eliminating the plague
means to eliminate the businesses of thousands of people, something
tantamount to genocide. The alternative, thus, is to eradicate the cause
of the plague, a difficult task, because it entails political decisions
aimed at offering Cubans economic freedoms that are today highly restricted.
Therefore, the flyer epidemic continues and will continue to spread,
attesting to a city that is being sold out, bit by bit…through bits of
Source: Havana’s Unchecked Flyer Epidemic – Havana Times.org –