He’s 28 and works at a hotel pool because his stepfather bought him a job in the tourism industry. His command of English is awful but with the two thousand pesos he paid to the administrator, he didn’t have to prove he could speak it. More than half the bottles of rum and coca cola he sells at the snack bar he bought himself at the retail price. His colleagues taught him how to sell his own “merchandise” first, over that which the State sells to tourists. Thanks to this trick, on every shift he pockets what a neurosurgeon would earn in a month.
His rhythm of spending is tied to his illegal profits, so he tries to comply rather than clash on the plane of “ideological unconditionality.” He’s one of the first to arrive when called to a march or to the May-Day parade. In his wardrobe, for when needed, he has a pullover with the Five Heroes, another with Che’s face, and a dark red one that says “Battle of Ideas.” If his boss tries to catch him diverting resources, he wears one of those shirts and the pressure eases.
At his young age, he already understands that it doesn’t matter how many times you cross the line of illegality as long as you keep applauding. Some slogans shouted at a political event, or that time he spoke out against a counterrevolutionary group, have helped him keep his lucrative employment. His hands, that today steal, cheat customers, and divert goods from the state, six years ago these same hands signed a constitutional amendment to make the system “irreversible.” For him, if they let him continue to line his pockets, socialism could well be eternal.
Five Heroes = Five Cuban men convicted of spying in the United States. More detail about this ongoing case can easily be found by searching on: five heroes Cuba.