Though they weren’t exactly the happiest times of my life, I still have fresh memories of my student years at the pre-university V.I. Lenin High School; the earth revolved around the sun three times as I dressed in my blue uniform with the red monogram while there.
Since then, and who knows how long before, it has been common in Havana schools to abruptly suspend classes and mount students onto school buses. In an impressive convoy, they haul the more than 3,000 students to anywhere mass attendance is needed.
In my case, I was one of those who “packed” the Pan-American games in 1991, though sports haven’t excited me a lot since then. Still, a break from class-if only for a day-was like a big party. Today I see things differently however.
The morning of this past September 20, a long column of buses left Lenin School barreling down Boyeros Avenue. Their final destination?-the Juanes concert.
None of the nearly 5,000 people who study or work at Lenin were asked-before making a decision-if they wanted to go to the concert or not. The same thing happened to those who attend Camilo Cienfuegos School, the Art Instructors School, the Computer and Informatics University and who knows how many others.
The worst thing-from my point of view- was not subjecting them to the boiling tropical sun at 2:00 in the afternoon, nor forcing them to listen to something that perhaps wasn’t their taste.
To me the worst thing was the civics lesson those kids received. The worst thing was how they were being conditioned to such a style of political non-participation. The worst thing was their being adapted to seeing themselves being used for proselytizing purposes as completely normal. They were not clearly explained the purpose; they were not even talked to beforehand.
Yes, it’s good that there is mass and free education for all the children and young people in Cuba. However, it’s like destroying with kicks that which has been crafted with hands if such collective achievements demand the relinquishment of individual rights.
It’s not possible to instruct values; dignity is not born, much less self esteem-so necessary for there to be socialism-if one doesn’t first teach respect for each individual.
Someone should see to it that children and youth in Cuba-especially those in boarding schools, subjected to special disciplinary regimes-are not manipulated so easily or indoctrinated from hegemonic centers of power.