HAVANA TIMES – I belong to the generation that was born with the Special Period*; the generation that watched 6-8 hour long speeches made by the dictator and broadcast on every TV channel and, then, another blackout. However, I grew up in the heart of a Fidelista* family, loyal to the ideals of the Revolution and its leaders, who only knew this alleged ray of hope.
During my early years as a student, I was proud to sing the indoctrinating slogans and I fervently believed in the existence of a blockade that hindered Cuba’s progress. I believed in the evil Yankees and their fabricated wish to dominate us, in short, everything they’d tell us on the official news, the only informative media we had back then.
I used to take part in every student activity and I’d repeat the slogan “Pioneers for Communism, we’ll be like Che.” A phrase that I couldn’t fully understand when I was so young, but we were forced to repeat it every day, at our morning line up.
As I grew up, my friendships became more diverse, and my access to a greater influx of information also grew. I was overcome by doubts, contradictions, deception, in the beginning. Then, with greater Internet access, I had the opportunity to investigate, do my own research; and that’s when I discovered that I didn’t want to be like Che.
Not a lot changed during my teenage years, the creation of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA) by Venezuela’s president at the time, Hugo Chavez, and the benefits this brought for Cuba: there were less blackouts, medical cooperation and other professional opportunities came for Latin America and the Caribbean. It seemed like the progress we’d been longing for so long had finally come, but these were just some baby steps.
Right now, in the year 2022, when the entire world is testing out nanotechnology, space tourism and human cloning, the island is sunk in its darkest phase, with more hours without electricity, the basic and increasingly needed service to boost its development. Shortages of basic essentials are also getting worse.
Cuba is experiencing the greatest crisis in its history, so what do we do? Young people of many generations have chosen to leave the country, to leave their families, schools, dreams… This phenomenon is no longer a matter of mass migration, but rather an evacuation, it’s a matter of fighting to survive when your family doesn’t have any financial means, when your wages aren’t enough, when you don’t have access to health services and your neighbor dies without the medicine, medical attention they needed; then, you don’t know what to do…
At 30 years old, I’ve discovered I’m alone. I don’t have any close family left, I don’t have any money to embark on a journey, I’m just left contemplating this reality, trying to survive it.
My friends, the ones who haven’t left, will eventually, desperate for a future, disappointed by so many unfulfilled promises, dreams broken by the leaders of this country’s incompetence, who suck it dry of its last breath for their own benefit and sell a fake picture of Socialism to the world (which even they don’t believe in). My friends are fleeing this land that cries for its children, it’s dying, only the memories of so many lost generations remain.
*Special Period: a period of shortages and hardship that began in Cuba after the Soviet Bloc collapsed. Fidel said in one fo his speeches that this would only be for a short period of time.
*Fidelista: is the word to describe somebody loyal to Fidel Castro’s ideas.