A few days ago a young relative of mine came up to me acting mysteriously. It seems he felt tempted to try drugs for the first time and was going around looking for advice. What was I supposed to do? …refuse to help? …tell him that drugs are bad?
With all the frankness and clarity possible, I told him what I knew about the issue so that he could decide for himself what to do and how to do it.
He was fortunate to find someone who he could talk to about these issues; but what would he have done if he hadn’t found anyone? Is there any institution or facility set up to educate people about these issues? What point of view, what position is taken by official counselors relating to matter of drugs?
In my hands I have one of the brochures (1) prepared by Cuba’s ideo-bureaucracy to discourage young people from using these substances and for helping teachers with that daunting task. The purpose of this post is to extract the slices of this manipulative pamphlet that, in my point of view, does more harm than good in helping those having problems with drugs or wanting to get involved with them.
To begin with, we can read the intention of the author in their own words:
“To create in students a culture that rejects these manifestations (drug consumption) that are not in accordance with the ethical and moral principles of society.
“To develop within them (the students) strong convictions and true feelings in keeping with the ethical standards promoted by our society.”
This is the line of a voluntarist, disrespectful, complacent elite whose preferred teaching method is instilling their own dogmas and prejudices (assumed to be high moral truths) in the minds of others.
For them, the brains of young people have to be molded (as soon as possible so someone else doesn’t get to them first) by a technician in search of a predefined order. What’s subliminally promoted and spread in these pamphlets — intentionally or not — is chiefly a form of colonialism in human relations.
For example the notion of “not in accordance with the sound ethical and moral principles society” is a fallacious appeal, an old trick that tries to frighten people with the specter of society.
It makes it seems as if society were a monolithic whole that holds the absolute truth, and that the author is its spokesperson. And since (according to this false social consensus) drug use has moral implications, “society” has the right to become irate and judge people who involve themselves in this ancient practice.
Of course drugs are very dangerous, but they can also be of great benefit, at least some of them and when treated with great care. If this is not said, the masses of people who get involved with them every year will do so in the worst way: uninformed.
In their eagerness to strike panic (and, incidentally, to justify the actions of law enforcement agencies) the author not only reinforces the association of drugs with ethical issues, they also link it to the political conflict with the worst of the worse: the Miami Mafia and the US right-wing.
We can read where they say:
“The firm political of principles supported by the Cuban Revolution, systematically distorted by the Miami Mafia and the US extreme right who unsuccessfully try to involve us in drug trafficking, putting pressure so that we appear on a list that every year the White House issues indicating the main countries involved in drug trafficking, requires redoubled efforts…”
I wouldn’t even deny that this is true, but in a pamphlet for young people designed to clarify the consequences of drug abuse, was so much paraphernalia necessary with the enemy?
And of course, bound to the moralistic leash of the revolution-counterrevolution dynamic one could not miss the living symbol and the ultimate guarantor of moral virtue and the revolution (according to the venomous paradigm posited by the author): Fidel Castro, from whom the author attached a sinister fragment of a speech (2) delivered in 1999:
“For those who commit the infamous outrage, the monstrous crime against our country and humanity, of using the territory of Cuba for international drug trade, the death penalty! (Loud applause)
Castro then adds:
“You cannot play with this country or the future of this country!”
It’s “curious” that this booklet doesn’t attempt to analyze the causes of the drug abuse that’s proliferating here. In this sense the author refers only to the increase of international drug trafficking, but not to the frustration, pessimism, despair or the identity crisis caused by a worn-out model.
Well, I’ve come to the end and I don’t know if anyone else is here with me. I can only recommend to those who don’t know much about the issue to educate themselves before jumping into consuming or recriminating.
Some people like me believe that certain drugs employed carefully can be personally and socially beneficial. I encourage those others not to remain silent but to share their experiences and arguments in favor of a more harmonious relationship with these powerful and dangerous substances.
(In the second part I will discuss how the pamphlet lies and manipulates when it introduces the subject of drugs and pharmacological substances.)
1. Trabajo preventivo relacionado con el uso indebido de las drogas (Preventive Work Related to the Misuse ff Drugs), Pedro J. Pascual Betancourt, Msc.; 2005.
2. Excerpts from the speech on the occasion of 40th anniversary of the PNR.