Monday, December 7, 2009

Letters to the President, a documentary by Petr Lom

Among the great deal of information reproduced on USB flash memory sticks, lately there has been a certain tendency towards documentaries that demystify dictatorships. I received an excellent one about letters written by Iranians to President Ahmadinejad. Millions of people express their needs, doubts, disappointments and miseries on a piece of paper, hoping that this super powerful man will give them a moment and deal with their problems.

The letters end up in a kind of ministry, called “The Center for Processing Presidential Letters,” the ultimate bureaucracy. They are divided into two large groups by the processors: letters written by women and those written by men. Far from trying to create a governmental infrastructure that would improve the quality of life for citizens, an insufficient ministry swallows millions of pieces of paper to strengthen people’s illusion of the Savior-Leader and to continue reinforcing the foundation of a personality cult. Meanwhile, Ahmadinejad does not read the letters and people don’t believe the answers: some thousands of young people took to the streets of Teheran to pressure their supposed benefactor to recognize that he didn’t win the election and should resign as president.

The grand Messiahs of political power believe in nothing but themselves: we, “the masses”, cannot be the masters of our own fate, we don’t have the capacity to build our own lives, we must wait for the brilliant future they promise us, which unfortunately never comes. “Letters to the President” reminded me of the letters my neighbors would write, when I was a little girl, with their demands to the Party Central Committee. It’s been a long time since anyone has written anything,; it seems that here in Cuba we have stopped believing in our “Processing Center.”


Humberto Capiro said...

ABC NEWS: Friendlier Obama Tune on Cuba Brings Musical Detente

HAVANA (Reuters) - Cuban musicians are returning to perform in the United States after a long freeze on such visits, seizing the opportunity of friendlier overtures toward Havana from U.S. President Barack Obama.
Well-known Cuban musicians are being granted visas to perform at U.S. venues in a sign that Obama's administration is quietly promoting cultural contacts as part of a strategy of warmer "people to people" ties with the Communist-run island.

The more relaxed atmosphere between the Cold War era enemies is perhaps most evident in the arts, which in the past has provided a bridge between the two neighbors which have not had formal diplomatic ties for close to half a century.

Humberto Capiro said...


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