Cubans Directed To Be Sad / 14ymedio, Luz Escobar and Mario Penton
14ymedio, Luz Escobar/Mario Penton, Havana/Miami, 29 November 2016 —
Women crying on camera, Facebook profiles turned into portraits
of Comandante Fidel, long lines to bid farewell to his absent ashes. No
reggaeton in the streets, no “good morning” from the announcers on
national television. For a tourist, the people, Cuban and devoted to
Fidel, transfixed by pain, have not lost any opportunity to say goodbye
to their leader. But the reality is very different from the slogans.
“The Student Federation sent me this picture by email,” says a computer
science student in Santa Clara, while looking at an image of a young
Fidel Castro in his inbox. “The directions are for us to put it on
our social networks and dedicate a dignified farewell to the old man,”
says the teenager. “All of it, it doesn’t matter to me, but if I don’t
do it, it could affect my career,” he adds.
Teresa, a woman from Cienfuegos who works in education, spends the hours
as the sun passes overhead in front of a photograph of the former
president and follows protocol to show signs of pain, which isn’t pleasant.
“I went because the union made me. If you dare not to go you’ll find out
what happens to you. He died, but the system he created is just the
same. He could have done a lot of good, but forcing us to go say goodbye
to him seems abusive to me,” says the teacher, who added that she ended
up with a migraine after so much time standing in the sun.
Perhaps the most notable case of following the forms was the debate
between two news announcers, Froilán Arencibia and Mariuska Díaz, caught
on open mike, about whether they should greet viewers with “good
afternoon” or simply “greetings.” Finally, the direction to eliminate
the “good” won the day because how could it be a good day if Fidel
Castro had died?
“They put us in a huge line where, at the end all we had in front of us
was a photo and his medals, because the ashes were for the leaders,” an
independent worker told 14ymedio.
On elderly messenger in Havana had his own hypothesis about why Castro’s
ashes weren’t on display to the thousands of people who waited at least
four hours to enter one of the three “altars” in the Plaza of the
Revolution. “Looking at his photo were his admirers and opportunists who
wanted to look good at work. If they’d put the ashes on display, they’d
have to have someone guarding them and there might have been some damage
done,” he said, in reference to the Afro-Cuban rites where the bones of
the deceased or, failing that, the dust of the skeleton contains the
spirit of the departed.
“There are people who really loved him and they’re sorry. Fidel had a
people,” a lady of 60 years, retired from the army, says ruefully.
In a Havana street, a young man who was with his girlfriend in a car
complains that a policeman knocked on his window and asked,
discourteously, that he turn off the music with which the couple was
passing the time.
In the case of Cubans abroad connected with the country, the
directions have been clear: you must first participate in a ceremony in
which a book of dedications and lamentations is filled, then you have to
reflect that pain in social networks.
“We want to make Facebook into a place where our Comandante is
remembered and colleagues from other countries can go there to see the
pain of our people,” a coordinator of the Cuban medical mission told
Cuban doctors at a meeting in Brazil.
“The truth is easy come easy go, they force us to stand in lines,” jokes
one of the doctors of the mission who requested anonymity.
“This is like an open stage or one of the famous ‘marches of the
combative people.’ Doesn’t anyone ask why there were not spontaneous
mass gatherings after the announcement? The people have to wait for
directions from above to be sad.”
Source: Cubans Directed To Be Sad / 14ymedio, Luz Escobar and Mario
Penton – Translating Cuba –