When spoken-word performer Paul Flores heard about the resumption of diplomatic relations and the process to end the Cuban trade embargo, he immediately thought of two places: Mexico and France.
Mexico because he won’t have to go there first to sneak a flight to Havana and then sneak back in. France because he won’t have to wire money to a friend to pay his airfare and mail the ticket to him.
“Before, you couldn’t use credit cards because it was a record of you breaking the law,” says Flores, 41, who lives in the Excelsior and teaches theater at the University of San Francisco. “Isn’t that ridiculous just to go visit my family in Cuba?”
Travel and family aside, Flores has big plans to mix Cuban and Cuban American theater into one, and it starts in June, when he expects to travel to Havana to perform his unique style of hip-hop theater. He’s planning to use his American credit card or ATM card for the first time. Restrictions on such payments have been eased, though as recently as February, the infrastructure was not yet in place, negating this convenience.
He’ll need to flash that plastic to pursue his plan to recruit local poets to come here in a year to mount a production in two languages.
“Cubans will be coming here, and that’s never happened,” he says. “We’ve never had a Cuban spoken-word collaboration with American artists in the United States.”