I still remember the odor of the gas masks we wore, running to the shelter in military practice during primary school. My classmates and I came to fear that one day we’d take shelter in the basement of some building, while outside the bombs fell. Today, the city shows the traces of a constant attack, but it has only been the projectiles of mismanagement and the bullets of a centralized economy that have shaped this landscape. In all that time, preparing for a battle that never came, we overlooked that the main confrontation occurred among ourselves. A prolonged battle between those of us fed up with bellicose language, and, the other side, those who need “a place under siege, where dissent is treason.”
Surrounded by billboards that warn us of a possible invasion from the north, several generations of Cubans have come of age. Vigorous calls to resist, though nobody really knows exactly whom or what, make up the background chorus. Like a soldier who sleeps with one eye open, ready to jump up at the trumpet’s call, so should we be always on edge. In contrast, indifference won the key battle, and most of my childhood pals ended up going into exile rather than into the trenches.
After decades of hearing the same thing, I’m tired of macho wrapped in its olive green uniform; of the adjective “virile” associated with bravery; of hairs on the chest determining more than hands in the sink. All my progesterone waits, because of this rugged paraphernalia, to switch to words like: prosperity, reconciliation, harmony, coexistence.