Havana, Year Zero

The majority of Cubans are tied to a daily cycle of survival (14ymedio)

14ymedio, Generation Y, Yoani Sanchez, 17 April 2018 — My mother was born under the Castro regime, I was born under the Castro regime and my son was born under the Castro regime. At least three generations of Cubans have lived only under the leadership of two men with the same surname. That uniformity is about to be broken on April 19 when the name of the new president will be publicly announced. Whether he maintains the status quo or looks to reform it, his arrival to power marks a historical fact: the end of the Castro era on this Island.

Despite the closeness of this day, without precedent in the last half century, in the streets of Havana expectations are extremely low. In a country on the cusp of experiencing a transcendental change in its Nomenklatura that could begin in couple of days.

At least three reasons feed this indifference. The first is the regrettable economic situation that keeps the majority of people tied to a daily cycle of survival, one in which political speculations or predictions of a different tomorrow are tasks relegated to other emergencies, like putting food on the table, traveling to and from work, or planning to escape to other latitudes.

The second reasons for so much apathy has to do with the pessimism that springs from a belief that nothing will change with a new face in the official photos, because the current gerontocracy will remain in control through a docile and well-controlled puppet. Meanwhile, the third force engendering so much ennui is knowing no other scenario, of having no references that allow on to imagine that there is life after the so-called Historic Generation.

This feeling of fatality, that everything will continue as it is now, is the direct result of six decades of, first, Fidel Castro, and later Raul Castro, controlling the Island with no other person to cast shadows or question their authority at the highest rung of the government. By remaining at the helm of the national ship, by their force in crushing the opposition and eliminating other charismatic leaders, both brothers have shown themselves, throughout this entire time, to be an indispensable and permanent part of our national history.

More than 70% of Cubans were born after that January in 1959 when a group of barbudos – bearded men – entered Havana, armed and smiling. Shortly after that moment, school textbooks, all the media of the press and government propaganda presented the “revolutionaries” dressed in olive green as the fathers of the nation, the messiahs who had saved the country and redeemed the people. They spread the idea that Cuba is identified with the Communist Party, the official ideology of a man named Castro.

Now, biology is about to put an end to that chapter of our history. The Cuban calendar could have, in this, its year zero, a new beginning, However, instead of people waving flags in the plazas, of enthusiastic young people shouting slogans, or epic photos, the feeling one perceives everywhere is that of exhaustion. The stealthy attitude of millions of people whose enthusiasm has atrophied after a very long wait.


This text was  originally published by Deustche Welle’s Latin America page.

3 thoughts on “Havana, Year Zero

  1. Again, like a broken record or the Roman Senator who ended every speech with “Carthage must be destroyed”, I tell you that the USA can fix both Cuba and Venezuela easily. Lifting the bloqueo embargo, the Castrista business model will collapse. It will happen one day. Also, the US could engineer the toppling of the inMaduro. Why haven’t they done both a long time ago?
    Carthage was destroyed. When will CubaZuela be healed? How much more suffering will there be before it happens?

  2. There’s something which is hard to talk about, the character of the Carribeans. They just seem to be too laid back, and now I’m thinking about why the Puerto Ricans don’t want independence. There are many countries which are much smaller, but PR insists on keeping on doing what doesn’t work!?
    Then to Cuba and CubaZuela, because they’re both in the same boat. Their autocracies will collapse under the weight of their disastrous economies, or China and/or Russia will colonize them completely. The two great powers already practically own both countries, the jewel in the Vzla crown PDVSA being the next asset to be sold off cheap.
    This is going on while the USA is distracted over in Eurasia as usual. Great strides with the DPRK while trouble is brewing in the US’ own back yard…
    As always, the plight of the affected peoples is ignored by the geopolitical players, and migrants used as bargaining chips, as brought out in Homeland.

  3. Pingback: Cuba anno zero |

Comments are closed.