Six Years Adrift with the Mass Organizations

Daisy Valera
Daisy Valera

I’m a Cuban and this means that even without the least interest in joining you arrive at the age of twenty already belonging to a series of mass organizations, such as the CDR (Committees for the Defense of the Revolution), the FMC (Federation of Cuban Women) and the FEU (Federation of University Students). You become a member of these organizations without even knowing you’ve become one, and you continue along without achieving any real participation beyond paying a few obligatory pesos, whose destination you’re never informed about.

Committees for the Defense of the Revolution

So, I’m one member more of the CDR. I enrolled, or more correctly speaking I was included in the rolls at fourteen. There’s no consultation with each new member beforehand, so that it was only after some time that I learned some of the objectives of this organization. Without a doubt it played an important role in the beginning, when the chief preoccupations in the country were the possibility of an attack and the actions being carried out by reactionary groups inside Cuba. They were also useful later when the entire neighborhood would join together for volunteer work sessions.

Today we can note that the weeds are very high indeed, and the collective work has been transformed into collecting money to pay the only individual still capable of wielding a machete. I ask myself if this has happened because all us Cubans are now so intellectual that we don’t know how to use a machete, or if we have lost the desire to form a more conscientious and participative community.

I’m also one number more in the grand membership of the Federation of Cuban Women (FMC), an organization that at the moment doesn’t seem to be making any effort towards the social education of this historically marginalized sector of the population.

To illustrate this better, I’ll tell you about something that happened to a friend of mine. Three days before International Women’s Day, last March, he went over to the head office of the FMC in Havana hoping to obtain information, as well as posters and signs, that he could use to hold an activity commemorating the day in his department of the university. I wasn’t surprised by the response they gave him in this important center, considered the vanguard of women in Cuba. The leaders that were there didn’t help him at all, claiming that they didn’t know enough about it and lacked resources related to the activity. We’re talking about the day of greatest significance for female workers all over the world! To me, this shows the scarce motivation, organization and preparation for offering services to the population when they have questions, as well as the lack of activities that would increase participation in the debate about gender in Cuba.

The last organization that I enrolled in, this time of my own free will, was the Federation of University Students. But this too has fallen far short of fulfilling my expectations. Instead of a FEU that battles for the rights and interests of students, I encountered a feeble Federation whose leaders were wasting their time demanding that they be handed minutes to show that they were holding meetings in the classrooms of the department, instead of responding to the real problems of the students.

In conclusion, my experience in these organizations hasn’t helped me very much and I have noted that their objectives drift farther every day from the interests of the general population. It’s not surprising then to note that people don’t identify with them.

One thought on “Six Years Adrift with the Mass Organizations

  • December 17, 2008 at 9:29 pm

    Hi Daisy,

    Enjoyed your post but it left me with a question.

    In my country (Canada) membership in political parties, trade unions, youth and women’s organizations is voluntary, and you can join an organization that best reflects your values and beliefs. Or, you can choose not to join. Do you think one of the reasons Cuban mass organizations may have gotten complacent is because the monopoly they are given by the state doesn’t require them to earn your support?

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