I was only fourteen and everything was happening too fast around me. The material shortages were severe and in the shops of my city it was already difficult to find the magazines with many colors but few truths that came from the USSR. We had seen the television show of General Ochoa’s trial*, and my parents lost their illusions watching how the law folded before the olive green uniforms.
News of what happened in Poland came in those same days. We didn’t understand anything, because until then the European socialist block seemed to us something designed for eternity. A distant cousin told us of her apprehensions after a short stay in Moscow, but we still believed that the COMECON, the Warsaw Pact and the Robotron typewriters would survive us all.
The word Solidarity had suddenly become fashionable and several schools in my city were still named People’s Republic of Poland. Although my Marxism-Leninism teacher was making an effort to idealize the East, something inside him snapped when he learned what was happening on the streets of Warsaw. If the invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 had been difficult for our leaders to justify, the rebellion of the “Polish working class” left more than one without answers.
I grew up, had a son and he also came to repeat the slogan, “Pioneers for communism, we will be like Che.” Today he is the same age I was in that tumultuous 1989, when my doubts began, when I knew that everything they’d drilled into me might not be true.
General Arnaldo Ochoa, a member of Fidel Castro’s 26th of July Movement, a prominent general in the Cuban army and a “Hero of the Revolution”, was arrested on June 12, 1989 and charged with corruption, drug trafficking (in alliance with Pablo Escobar) and treason. His trial was broadcast on Cuban TV (the films, subtitled in English, are available on line). Ochoa was executed on July 12, 1989.