Human Rights in Cuba

Time To Change

Waiting for help
Waiting for help

Devaluation / Yoani Sanchez
Posted on March 7, 2014

It’s difficult for a cell to maintain its inside a sick organism.
In an inefficient society the bubble of functionality bursts. In the
same way, certain ethical values — selected and filtered — cannot be
strengthened in the midst of a debacle of moral integrity. Rescuing
codes of social conduct implies also accepting those that clash with the
prevailing ideology.

We are now being called upon by the official media to recover lost
values. According to the version put forth by the commentators on TV,
responsibility for the deterioration falls mainly on the family, a
portion on the schools… but not at all on the government. They talk
about bad manners, rudeness, lack of solidarity and the extent of bad
habits such as stealing, lying and laziness. In a country where for half
a century the educational system, the entire press, and all the
mechanisms of cultural production and distribution have been monopolized
by a single party, one can only ask: what is the source of such

I remember that when I was a little girl no one dared to address another
person as “señor” — mister — because it was a bourgeois throwback. As
the use of “compañero” — comrade — is associated with an ideological
position, many of us began to adopt new forms: “cousin,” “young man,”
“hey you,” “Pop”… along with a long list of phrases derived from vulgar
speech. Now they complain on TV that when we address others we are
insulting, but… who started this deterioration?

The Cuban system opted for social engineering, and toyed with individual
and collective alchemy. The most perfect example of this failed
laboratory was the so-called “New Man.” This Homus Cubanis would
supposedly come of age in sacrifice, obedience and loyalty. His
uniformity was incompatible with the particular ethics of each home. So
to achieve him, millions of Cuban children were removed — as much as
they could be — from the family environment.

We went to daycare centers just 45 days after we were born; the Pioneer
Camps took us in right after we learned our first letters; we went to
schools in the countryside as soon as we left childhood, and spent our
adolescence in high schools in the middle of nowhere. The State believed
it could take over the formative role of our parents, thought it could
exchange the values we brought from home for the new communist moral
code. But the resulting creature deviated greatly from the one they had
planned. We didn’t even manage to convert ourselves into the “New Man.”

They also launched themselves against religion, ignoring that dissimilar
creeds transmit a share of the ethic and moral values that molded human
civilization and our own national . They made us denigrate those
who were different, we insulted the presidents of other countries with
obscenities, mocked historic figures from the past, stuck our tongues
out or blew raspberries when passing a foreign embassy.

They instilled in us the “Revolutionary promiscuity” that they
themselves had already practiced in the Sierra Maestra, and incited us
to laugh at those who spoke well, were deeply cultured, or showed any
kind of refinement. This was carried out with such intensity that many
of us faked speaking vulgarly, left off syllables when we talked, or
shut up about our reading, so no one would notice that we were “weirdos”
or potentially “counterrevolutionaries.”

One man — from the podium — screamed at us for fifty years. His
diatribes, his hatred, his inability to listen calmly to an opposing
argument, were the “exemplary” postures we learned in . He
instilled in us the gibberish, the constant tension, and the
authoritarian index finger when we address others. He — who thought he
knew everything but in reality knew very little — conveyed to us the
pride of never asking forgiveness and of lying, that deception of rogues
and scam artists that he was so good at.

Now, when the ethical picture of the nation looks like a mirror
shattered against the floor, they call on the family to fix it. They ask
us to shape values at home and to pass on order and discipline to our
children. But how can we do it? If we ourselves were shaped to
disrespect every code? How can we do it? If there’s no process for the
powers-to-be to criticize themselves, for those who played at social
engineering with our lives to recognize what they did?

Ethical codes are not so easily reassembled. A morality devalued by
public discourse can’t be put back together overnight. And now, how are
we going to fix this disaster?

7 March 2014

Source: Devaluation / Yoani Sanchez | Translating Cuba –

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