HAVANA TIMES — I don’t know how many times a police officer has beaten or dragged in Pablo this month. I don’t know if tonight he’ll sleep under a roof, in the Plaza del Sol or in jail.
I fear for his agile hands, and for his voice that cured my allergy to the Iberian accent.
Pablo, 22, is part of “Okupa” movement in Spain. He isn’t studying political science anymore. Instead, he plays the violin in the Madrid Metro in exchange for a few euros daily.
He’s one of my “ni-no” friends from across the Atlantic: neither studying nor working.
He perfectly fits the portrait painted of the rest of the world by the journalists who write for Cuba’s youth newspaper:
– Unemployment remains relentless in Greece.
– Youth are outraged over unemployment in Lisbon
– 7.26 million young people in Mexico are neither studying nor working.
– In Germany only 22 percent of young people have succeeded at obtaining an educational level higher than their parents.
These descriptions continue on, with a long “etc…”
The Juventud Rebelde (Rebellious Youth) newspaper skillfully reveals international misery, but when it comes to talking about the island, it seems to be directed to a special category of young people: young supporters, young idealists…young “rebels.”
These are the only ones who celebrate International Youth Day.
These media professionals nod with satisfaction when they read that an official of an international organization “assessed the role of the Cuban government as being very positive in relation to the country’s youth.”
They even included an interview with someone from the Center for the Study of Youth who talked about how young Cubans should have freedom of creative expression and making constructive criticism, though they don’t seem to perceive the impossibilities hidden behind those adjectives.
The newspaper tiptoes around silently when it comes to any problems (with limited exceptions) and almost convinces us that Cuba is a paradise for young people.
In Cuba there are no “ni-no” youth!
The exclamation is a lie apparently trying to give birth to silence, since silence is what marks the disconnect between the official press and the more than two million young people on the island.
I myself have more than five ni-no friends.
Some have decided not to work because the wages are too low, while others are still holding onto dreams that are impossible these days – like making a movie, building a telescope, starting a bohemian coffee shop…
The press dares to say that there are jobs available…in construction, agriculture and education.
They promise that the Cuban Communist Party’s “economic guidelines” will create jobs in the near future (forgetting to note the date).
They tell us that the state guarantees three years of employment for university graduates, but they fail to mention that after that time one can find themself on the street condemned to the few existing legal opportunities for self-employment.
No news appears about the number of young Cubans who are unemployed.
Perhaps tomorrow Pablo will be out there loudly defending his rights in front of Spain’s Moncloa Palace.
But some of my friends on this side of the Atlantic will have no other alternative but to become ni-no-no youth (neither studying, nor working, nor staying).