Wooden Suitcase

Mine was painted blue with a handle and reinforced metal hinges to avoid my being robbed. It was a wooden suitcase that accompanied me to several agricultural camps, until I finally abandoned it, broken, in a dorm in Alquízar. I thought I would never again use such an object, especially after the end of the schools in the countryside was announced. It seemed that the low productivity and high risks discouraged the Cuban authorities from continuing to send teenage students to work in agriculture. But the specter of that reinforced heavy suitcase has returned recently, to confirm for me that nothing much changes on this Island.

With the start of the school year my son’s school filled with students dressed in their blue uniforms. Reunion hugs, laughter, morning assemblies with slogans like, “Long live Fidel and Raul!” along with various educational transformations. Among the most promising is the reduction in time devoted to the so-called tele-classes. An educational approach that tries to replace the teacher with a screen, a VCR and a remote control. The failure of the “emerging teachers” — very young and barely trained — has also been recognized after years of complaints and sad incidents.* Pragmatism prevails, according to a declaration from the Ministry of Education, while some warn: “Enough of improvisation.” With so many calls to eliminate the nonfunctional, it was a surprise to hear that students in the 11th grade will leave in just a week for “the school in the countryside.”

My son is happy, I won’t deny it. He imagines two weeks of fun, drinking water from the rivers, running through the rows of small seedlings, and prowling around the dorm for girls. However, from the viewpoint of profitability, these students’ time in a farm camp will be an economic loss for the country. From my own experience, I know; instead of fostering responsibility for work, these work-study experiments end up adding to the prevailing practice of faking it: “Duck, here comes the teacher, make him think we’re weeding.” There is also a certain concern about possible outbreaks of violence among the dorm mates, hence the deputy director of the school himself warned that the students cannot bring objects that pierce or cut, not even can openers. By Friday, they tell us, the parents must deliver the luggage with the belongings their children will take.

And I threw away my old wooden suitcase! I, who thought such absurdities were over!

Translator’s note:
*In one incident a young “emerging teacher” threw a chair at a student, killing him.

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125 thoughts on “Wooden Suitcase

  1. Ignorance, ignorance, and ever more ignorance. The pioneers of the support brigade just cannot out do themselves even for trying.

    Take, for example, the post 116:

    “we depend on midldle east for oil…” where the “we” are correctly identified as usanians.

    Now, the DRY FACT is that the usa imports 60% of its oil from

    C A N A D A

    Not from mddle east.

    Another 15% the usa is importing from

    V E N E Z U E L A

    The usa own reserve are able to supply around 35% of demand, and that is without Alaskan oil reserves, the ones in the national park, recently mentioned in the press.

    Usa also receives around 45% of its’ needs from the multinational companies owned partially by usa companies, so the total production is around 155% of its demand.

    The DRY FACT is that the usa is S T O R I N G surplus for the period A F T E R the last dros have been used up and spent. When no other oil will be available (natural), the usa will still have some leftovers for the army.

    The idea is that everyone else is so stupid that they are only spending the oil. usa is accumulating it to contro the borders once the reserves are dried up.

    In any event, usa does NOT depend on the middle, or any other for that matter, east for the oil.

    But, the lack of knowledge has never stopped the ignorants and brainwashed fanatics to boldly claim things that do not exist.

    This whole server, hosting 30-ish Cuban dissidents and dissenters, exists because of that one simple fact.

    Let the ignorants rant about everything. As long as they keep singing our song and repeating it ad nauseam, all is well and the lies will become the truth.

    Such is the way the brains of the stupid and naive work.

  2. @#123

    @Albert, if I am a user of rights not sure what that makes you.. cos obviously things are connected… I suspect you are then a ‘giver of earned rights’… To put it bluntly as much as the ridiculous church is the middle man to get to God as much I am done with such middle men like you… So I suggest you sell rights somewhere else probably some poor, and reduced to religion Cubans would buy your ‘earned rights’ demagogy…tell them it is what God wanted and his ‘only’ son too!!!

    I think that perhaps this is only what u r & I’ll tell u why:

    1)Ur assumption of my religious beliefs is just that, an assumption.
    2) The other assumption is that I am a ‘giver of earned rights’ & I challange u to prove it so.
    3) Where/what do the church & religious beliefs come into my statements?
    4)Ur constant posting w/subjects not related to the conversation r proof to my point.

    U will have no answers to my posting other than to change subject or twisting facts in any case perhaps motivated by ur own perverted entertainment
    Perhaps the following describes u perfectly … pal.

    TROLL = “someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum, chat room, or blog, with the primary intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion …”

    I think this definition fits some of the “characters” posting in Yoani’s blog; perhaps their contribution (using the term loosely) is not inspired by a desire to look for truth & change, rather by a desire to poke fun & to disrupt serious discussions among people who respects freedom & seeks the improvement of life for all Cubans.

  3. @Albert, if I am a user of rights not sure what that makes you.. cos obviously things are connected… I suspect you are then a ‘giver of earned rights’… To put it bluntly as much as the ridiculous church is the middle man to get to God as much I am done with such middle men like you… So I suggest you sell rights somewhere else probably some poor, and reduced to religion Cubans would buy your ‘earned rights’ demagogy…tell them it is what God wanted and his ‘only’ son too!!!

    and we were talking Hannibal not the PunicWars which he is responsible for starting the second.. and if this doen’t sound like revenge not sure what does:

    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hannibal_%28Barcid%29
    There is even an account of him at a very young age begging his father to take him to an overseas war. In the story, Hannibal’s father took him up and brought him to a sacrificial chamber. Hamilcar held Hannibal over the fire roaring in the chamber and made him swear that he would never be a friend of Rome. Other sources report that Hannibal told his father, “I swear so soon as age will permit…I will use fire and steel to arrest the destiny of Rome.”[9][15] According to the tradition, Hannibal’s oath took place in the town of Peñíscola, today part of the community of Valencia, Spain.[16]

  4. One for all the copy and paste geniuses. darling little pioneers of the anti-counter-revolution:

    Cable from usa Interest Section Office 08-HAVANA-613, sent to us state department confirms what only brave (really? so what are they waiting? why aren’t they “liberating” Cuba right now? coz they have no balls and are hiding under old woman’s skirt, that’s why) pioneers say it is not true.

    Delusional as always.

    The cable goes on to confirm that Jonathan Farrar, boss in the interest section of the usa, requested $8000 useless usanian dollara are given annualy to Laura Pollan, one of women from Damas en blanco, And Roberto Miranda.

    The officer of the interest section urges the state department to support “fighters for human rights” on the island by providing them with money sent to the island clandestinely, through fake “family” connections sending the money via Western Union.Jonathan Farrar cites the legality of these remittances under the laws and regulations OFAC, an agency of the Treasury Department, which literarily says that it is okay to fund and support anyone in Cuba who is hellbent on dethroning the Castros. “They will be sympathetic to the usa and usa interests, once in power”, states the document issued by the OFAC.

    Not the first cable from the interest section in Havana.

    On 15 Sept. 2008 the section requested money for a group called “Agenda para transicion”, including Martha Beatriz Roque, Elizardo Sanchez and Vladimiro Roca, who gave a list of “political prisoners in Cuba that included a bolivian football team, a painter from XVII century and a female voleyball team from Peru.

    Those are the real “freedom fighters” and “democrats”. One liar bigger than the next.

    Just as the team “yoani”, who we have already demonstrated are exercising censorship and are using bizarre issues and themes to promote their false agendas and patronising morals completely disconnected from the reality.

    And certainly disconnected from the real issues of Cubans people who do not need more liars and criminals usurping the power “in the name of the people”, and their “best interests”.

    We all know that no one has the best interest of teh people in their focus. It is just a bullshift that power-hungry liars and criminals have used since the dawn of the time to grab the power and rule over people.

    The team “yoani” are already getting rich faster than Castros themselves, so in an unlikely “some kind of pragmatic capitalist” tomorrow in Cuba, they will be already fattened up and able to finance their quest for that ultimate power they so yearn.

    Only stupid Cubans do not see that.

    Fortunately, nmost of them are on the other side of the sea, living in the sewages of Miami.

  5. @#117
    “.. So you support a visionary USA for the very simple reason the enemy of my enemy is my friend …”
    How did u come to that conclusion? where is that stated but by in ur own words, misquoting & twisiting statements, in ur arrogance u might think u can read minds & thoughts but reality is u r just a charlatan, w/a smarting of education & with enough chuzpah to claim by insinuation to be deserving of his own people’s sacrificies for freedom.
    Personally I rather u admit being a user of rights u had nothing to do to attain in “ur country in the east”, perhpas u should say thank u to ur grandfather (the Ford worker, ur parents & everyone who really fought in one form or another, but I have faith since u have showed it so many times U r so full w/arrogance u r not able to do so.

  6. @#104
    “… So what else have you been doing that is great and we need to know about.. Did you get any prize recently or came number 1? Any cake you baked today? …”

    Perhaps in spite of ur claims of greatness u r nothing more that a mental midgget as proven by most of ur statements, like Bonaparte (the “little guy”)at the end u still will be stuck in the island of ur own mind.

  7. @#117
    “…as I was telling Albert who thinks like most bs-ers in the west that freedom should be an earned human right that the rich could probably buy & Did USA had anything to do with the fall of the Roman empire… ?
    & to Pamela’s: “… That proves exactly how deluded you are in thinking you are great! … just to tease you darling the Roman empire managed to locate Hannibal in less time than your ’saving innocent life’ drones did … Ciao…”

    Show me where I have manifested such thoughts … purposely misquoting does not make something to be true.
    Ur manifested arrogance & patronizing attitude (a proven fact by now) does not evel lend humor to ur statements yet … what does the Roman empire’s location of Hannibal have to do w/any other fact?
    By the way Hannibal’s was the invader of Rome so, he was “hardly located” by the Romans, perhaps a good reading about the Second Punic War & Hannibal’s subsequent actions (start w/The Battle of Trebia) will educate u before u use history to give credence to ur statements. I am sure ur immense ego will look for minutiae to defend ur point yet it will only prove how ur greatness is suspect.

  8. UnSoricel, if you understood my post, I’m the exact opposite of the “enemy of my enemy is my friend” gang. That expression describes perfectly the fascist/racist/communist/anybody who hates America alliance. I never mentioned my personal views on US policy in the middle east, just brought up a few points that anti-Americans conveniently ignore.

    I prefer to stick to Cuba on this blog, and like I said, I’m glad that our government is condemning Castro’s abuses. Our government would be even worse for remaining silent like so many other countries.

  9. @Help … like your mates on the other section …. Now you said it more or less all … I love the moral high ground you guys think you have.. And if you don’t have it you fake it… After all who are we small people to argue with the great and good luckily I don’t have to argue with your drones… Good luck ..as I was telling Albert who thinks like most bs-ers in the west that freedom should be an earned human right that the rich could probably buy…. And Pam who has her own ideas as much as a parrot has his own feathers to impress…. So you support a visionary USA for the very simple reason the enemy of my enemy is my friend….. Did USA had anything to do with the fall of the Roman empire… ? That proves exactly how deluded you are in thinking you are great!… just to tease you darling the Roman empire managed to locate Hannibal in less time than your ‘saving innocent life’ drones did…. Ciao..

  10. UnSoricel, your response again has nothing to do with my previous comment. Like I said, Cuba is a high point of US foreign policy. Because we’re dependent on the middle east oil and terror producing states and China and others, there’s a lot of hypocrisy in our foreign policy as well.

    We don’t treat all the fascists equally and that’s too bad, but at least we’re doing better than most of the world in that department. We aided in the fall of the Shah of Iran and now in the fall of Mubarak, even though there is a great risk of more extreme fascists taking over. We also aided in the fall of Batista, even though the hyper-anti-American Castro took over. So you see, human rights is always present in the US foreign policy agenda. But the ignoramuses of the world look upon this as weakness and can safely make the US the scapegoat for all their problems. Our foreign policy is weak from the perspective of the fascist mentality, but I’d rather be weak than a fascist.

    Here’s your logic: “how can the US criticize Nazi Germany when the US has Alcatraz”

    Here’s more of your logic: “the US should never engage in military action because some civilians might die, but instead should stand by like the rest of the world even if millions of civilians are slaughtered”

    Think about this: For every terrorist that is killed, many innocent lives are saved. If we would have killed Osama and one of his wives 11 years ago, all the fascists would be screaming about US imperialism and the loss of innocent lives.

    Stop making the US the scapegoat for all your problems, we have nothing to do with them. Our country has lots of problems and I will keep fighting to make it better, but I won’t criticize it for the things it is doing right.

  11. @Help .. Don’t you have a bit of a conflict of interests there? Or to put it bluntly don’t you take a narrow view of humanity? …. I fail to see how the US can criticise abuses in Cuba after Guantanamo…and when every other day we hear of a drone killing a whole house just to get rid of a terrorist no one heard about but we are assured he was up to no good…. That is what I call western double standards.. That Pam ignores every time I bring them up… She things just about big tvs im talking about…. Apparently you and Pamela the historian who is not aware that history has a passion to repeat itself ..you guys buy these views and see no conflict….. can you show a bit of humanity outside the black and white views you take on Cuba and the rest of the world.. To me it is surprising how stuck up in the 60s you are … Ah Kennedy such a great guy… It seem the biggest evil Castro regime did was to make you see the world in black and white…. For the sake of fun do you want to bet that the next el presidente of Cuba or prime minster at least will be someone educated in the USA and not someone from Cuba that knows Cuba as it is now????

  12. UnSoricel: “The history of US foreign policy in Latin America is well documented…and the consequences… ”

    So is the history of Mongolian foreign policy, so what does that have to do with 2011? Right now the USA has done nothing militarily against Cuba for 50 years, and it is one of the few countries that is even denouncing the horrible human rights abuses of the Castro regime, so we should praise the USA and denounce Mongolia and all the others who keep silent. In fact, Cuba is one of the high points of US foreign policy.

    Like I said, I live in a country that changes quickly so we should avoid applying examples from history that are irrelevant to current conditions. Many other countries are far more imperialistic than the USA and I’m glad the USA is less imperialistic than ever. But the danger now is how much of a colony we are becoming of other world powers, especially the fascist oil-producers and China.

  13. @Help … The history of US foreign policy in Latin America is well documented…and the consequences… I was surprised to read parts of it and realise how much similar Russia has the same around it’s satellites… Including their position of distrust, how to treat dissent and the air they can buy anyone out…and that corrupt officials trained by them are the ones to fet to the top.. Good luck!

  14. “Wooden case” nonsenseby the team “yoani”, as always:

    “My son is happy, I won’t deny it. He imagines two weeks of fun, drinking water from the rivers, running through the rows of small seedlings, and prowling around the dorm for girls. However, from the viewpoint of profitability, these students’ time in a farm camp will be an economic loss for the country.”

    Investment in your own children and future generations in general, is never a “financial loss for the country”.

    You are absolutely disoriented and lost in the maize of your own hatred, which is based on your own, obviously unhappy, childhod.

    Your desire to declare your son’s generation as irresponsible and financial loss for the country is nothing more than a jealous and desperate attempt to seek revenge for your own disfunctional family and childhood.

    You need to seek professional assistance and fast.

    Fortunately, medical protection in Cuba is FREE, unlike that in your “some kind of pragmatic capitalism” and all you need to do is to recognise that you have serious problems and seek assistance with those issues.

  15. UnSoricel: ” Well I am sorry for you that after such a long time and history you still don’t see that the US has a finger on it if not a fist…”

    You’re not one of those dudes who thinks that whenever it rains in Borneo it’s the fault of the Americans? The CIA was not responsible for the fall of Rome, and it’s been half a century since they tried anything to topple Castro, and they didn’t try hard at that time either.

    The USA changes quickly, its foreign policy extremely quickly. Now are you afraid of Mongolia invading Cuba because of what Genghis Khan did?

    Now how did a little country like Cuba manage to intervene militarily in so many other countries? Castro could have given any US president a lesson in imperialism.

  16. Ah, finally we agree. I don’t want Cuba (or anywhere) to become a politically castrated comsumerist dumping ground either.

  17. Now, off to my daughter’s birthday party, or are birthday parties taboo lest I look like an ignorant, simplistic, right-wing, burb-dwelling, overconsuming American?

    And to collect some first-place prizes for all of my wonderfulness!

  18. @Pamela, well you know what I am happy if you do paralegal work for others…. And to stop here I would say that I believe your good will towards Cuba is more genuine than mine…. So I can only hope in honesty that Cuba will become the place you think it could and you would want it to become …and not the politically castrated consumerist dumping ground I have attempted to imply it will be in grave danger to become when change happens.

  19. Oh UnSoricel:

    I have some “splaining” to do. I was making a joke about your unfounded assumption that I live in a leafy burb, based on, what, a picture of 2 cars, a driveway, and part of a house?

    And my house, wherever it may be, would not be described as big by anyone who sees it.

    If you think that suburbs are the enemy, then you suffer from your own brand of amnesia.

    “It is called I made it in life so life must e good because I have a big house and am American.”

    You know, I don’t think that I’ve ever said such a silly thing, or even thought it. It sounds really smug and clueless. If I thought that “life was good because I’m an American and screw the rest of the world” then I wouldn’t give a rat’s about what goes on in Cuba, but I do, or donate money to organizations like Amnesty International, but I do, or donate time to free legal clinics, but I do.

  20. @Pamela… Then probably you are amnesic … Poor darling … It may help not to live in a leafy suburb … Especially when you develop the type of amnesia you suffer from… Leafy suburbs seem to e responsible a lot for the signs you show…off.. It is called I made it in life so life must e good because I have a big house and am American. Reality check not a rain check is important if you look for a cure …. Try it… but leave the camera at home!

  21. UnSoricel:

    Just rebutting your wild assumptions about me with the facts!

    Um, no prizes recently, but today is my daughter’s birthday, so I am baking her a cake.

    Now, hold on to your hat, my degree is in History, so I’ve managed to read a little.

    Would I appear to have more brainpower if I lived in a de-leafed burb? Just askin.

  22. @Pamela darling knowing a bit of history is relevant … But then again like the commies who wiped out the old society and were keen to rewrite history and forget everything else but their point of view….maybe you don’t need to… I didn’t realise Cubans are such a show-off.. I am leaning .. So what else have you been doing that is great and we need to know about.. Did you get any prize recently or came number 1? Any cake you baked today?

  23. UnSoricel:

    I feel the same way about you. You can’t stop explaining everything to us. The fact that I have 4 kids is irrelevant to my conception of a fair vs. unfair world.

    Now, you can look through cyberspace and see my passport? How talented you are.

    FYI, I despise right-wing politics as much as I despise radical left-wing politics.

    I don’t ever step foot in Walmart and I have donated some of our hard-earned capitalist money to Amnesty International.

    Next?

    Oh, and, you don’t know what you’re talking about.

  24. @Help … Well I am sorry for you that after such a long time and history you still don’t see that the US has a finger on it if not a fist…. Just because no one likes Chavez it don’t mean the proposed coup a few years back wasnt an attempted coup… Similar with the sandvinistas an all the other countries we heard about as kids …. if you are so honest and in all honesty if Batista handnt fall you don’t think the communists would have been tortured in prison and their dissidents hunted? So it is was and will be a dog eat dog world and where politics is concerned especially … And this is something maybe some of the simplistic brains here who live in leafy suburbs can acknowledge by reading history….they don’t have to do more than that… Or just by looking at colonialism and post-colonialism … Or just at the Carribeans…and where those countries are now..

  25. @Pamela, since you know it all so well and you can’t stop explaining it to us.. You should also know when ‘has it not?’ #100. probably for you with 4 kids it would be impossible to even conceive we might be living in an unfair world and that we shouldn’t all agree with your simplistic politics…. Get out more of the US not just of New Orleans – frankly try at least to look at today’s cover of Amnesty Int mag …and then sell me your cheap right wing ‘you dont know what you’re talking about thing’… In other words I am sorry for you you have such a cheap tv.. I am sure Chinese workers do their best and suck up the Walmart US so you can get a 40 inch ..but then again maybe you can’t afford it or you are not that in tune with the mentality of your society so pervasive here in Europe and other countries where the heavy lifting occurs.. we have a saying in EasternEurope.. We did a revolution to put the CocaCola sign up.. Now it will take a much bigger one to take it down… And yes Y is a show-off but you need those don’t you they make change look good… And in tune with what the policeman of the world agrees…but not further…… In other words I really loved that Y is wearing on the cover of that book that army jacket.. So close to Che and all the left wingers in the west..even I have one from Gap.. Oh how post modern we are…. Walmart awaytsthe future Cuban nation.. If not Carrefour would do too…or Billa…

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