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The Revolution of the Opportunists

February 25, 2012 Leave a comment

Viviana, 34, is a good example showing that the Revolution of Fidel Castro is losing force. She has never read any work of Marxist theorists. Not even Das Kapital.

Neither does she need to. She is very clear. She needs to get the red card of the party to rise. Improve her harsh living conditions and have opportunities and benefits. That is her goal. And it works for her.

There exists in Cuba a new breed of the supposed Castro brothers faithful with an amazing glaze of cynicism and opportunism. Forget faith. To occupy a position within the ideological sector, they see a spiral staircase to climb the ladder to the superstructure.

Their vocation us not Karl Marx, nor even Jose Marti. A little of Fidel Castro and great desires to travel the world in the name of tropical socialism.

They know the prerogatives of power. “Big Brother” is parsimonious. But he rewards fidelity. You can spend the summer in a house on the beach. Get foods and little things without spending money in State stores. Dance reggaeton without paying in hard currency, though perhaps a few pesos, at some disco in Havana.

And at the end of the road, if you pass through the trustworthiness filter, first a car, and then an address, conveyed from one of the many houses belonging to the “State reserve.”

After arriving and kissing the saint, there are other chameleon tactics. Being in the National Assembly is important. Rubbing shoulders with generals and ministers is a wonderful gateway. A good cover letter.

Wildly applauding the speech of the boss. Discreetly, suggesting the possibility of filing down certain sharp edges in the Creole Bible that is the Guidelines of the Economic and Social Policy of the Party and the Revolution. At that time, perhaps some old military leader of a corporation or foreign firm has his eye on you and makes you the expected offer

It is the dream of the new grandchildren of the Revolution. A visa. And foreign currency in your wallet. Like pigs primed with three meals a day. Never missing the three C’s in the pantry: beef, shrimp and coffee (Carne de res, Camarones and Cafe… in Spanish). And the coffee is not mixed with peas. It’s Brazilian or Colombian.

Genuflection and bigotry are a means to ascend. Progress in the name of an old German philosopher or that hard Russian Bolshevik whom you have never read, or read without paying attention, and, of course, assimilating, or pretending to assimilate, Fidelismo, that religion that emerged in 1959.

Any methods is good to show loyalty. From the beating of a peaceful dissident, or screaming with your veins popping out at the Ladies in White, “to the machete,” or insulting and classifying independent journalists as “mercenaries.” In pursuit of reaching the goal, anything goes.

October 12 2011

’Whitening’ the children: a desire of many Cuban families

February 25, 2012 2 comments

Racism in Cuba is far from being left behind. Forget the official ideology of a single nation without races. People do not live in compartments. Whites, blacks and mestizos get on the same bus. Go to the same schools. And live in the same neighborhood.

But they know the differences.. One of the most racist variants in the 21st century that persists in Cuba is in creating a family. Yoanna, a light skinned mixed-race college student, has a black boyfriend.

Her family is black. And they do not welcome the groom. They are very concerned stability and seriousness of the relationship. Especially the future. And the likely children.

“My family is concerned, they say I have to ‘delay’. My mother married a white man. And they want this to ‘continue’, having children with whites. I won’t lie, I’d rather not have to deal with the nappy hair of a little black girl. And although I really love my boyfriend, I want to form a family with a white man,” said Yoanna.

Planning for children between blacks and mestizos is an important issue in some home environment. “To whiten” the family is the purpose. Purely from a complex, some blacks and mestizos are shying away from their blackness.

I won’t make this into a long story. We know the past. Centuries of slavery. Being nobodies and despised by the color of your skin. When Cuba became emancipated in the racial aspect, it was only in appearance.

In Gothic letters it was enshrined in the Constitution that all Cubans, no matter what the color of their skin, were equal. Not so. Blacks and mestizos are left at a disadvantage.

They came out of slavery with their belongings in a duffel bag and not a penny to their names. For decades, they have been called the ugliest. They have the worst living and working conditions. This lack of stability, bad housing and little money, has limited the number of blacks who go to college.

Also the marginal conditions in which they live has fueled crime. 88% of prisoners in Cuba are black or mixed race. Therefore, when designing the future, young blacks and mixed-race people dream in white.

Marrying a white woman or white man is the plan of many. Or a light-skinned mulatto. To keep it going. “It’s like a ladder. A dark black person, who nobody sees, can not suddenly think to be equal to a white champion. It is step by step. First a dark mixed-race person. Then the children must marry to light mixed-race person, or if they are lucky, with a white person. Such is the picture to gradually whiten the family,”says Yoni, a 34-year-old mixed race man.

There are black and mixed race women who do not like their skin color. It shows at once. It straighten their hair and in fashion mimic the patterns of white women. Miriam, black, 22, goes every month for the hairdresser to get her hair straightened.

She spends a fortune on straightening creams and shampoos. She chooses her friends. She likes hanging out with whites and light-skinned people. “Blacks only talk about problems and difficulties. They’re always complaining. They’re out of control,” Miriam says bluntly.

State media does not address the issue at length and complexity. They put it aside. Pass over it. A broad spectrum of Cuban society sees black culture and history as folklore.

But in their homes, blacks and mestizos speak without taboo of the need to ’whiten’ the family. Having children with lighter skin what the parents propose, and what their children see as a goal.

Photo: Javier Monge, Flickr.

September 28 2011