Erasmo Calzadilla

That office has created a group of colorful posters to be put up on the bulletin board of each CDR across the country.

Every…every… every day when I leave my house or come back home, I run into the bulletin board of the Committee for the Defense of the Revolution (CDR).  This organization —like the Copelia ice cream parlor, schools, hospitals and, in short,  all that is good and almost all that is nonsense— was founded as a brainchild of Fidel Castro.

The CDR is an organization “of the masses” whose main function, as its name indicates, is to defend the Revolution.

In the preceding period when we weren’t so “developed,” but were indeed more fervent, it was not strange for neighbors to take the initiative to fill up the CDR bulletin board with their own personal initiatives: revolutionary phrases taken out of some book or from their own inspiration, hand-drawn caricatures of “imperialist Yankees,” photos of martyrs cut out of a magazine, winning drawings from some local children’s competition celebrating historical date, etc.

Although the concrete problems of the neighbors will never directly end up on this bulletin board, I’d say there existed a better relationship between the abstract and the concrete…that’s to say between the heroes and our leader on the one hand, and real flesh-and-blood people on the other.

We are reminded of the concept of the Revolution (with a big photo of its inventor) and are explicitly made aware of which political activities we should participate in: only those “DIRECTED WITH QUALITY” (or, less euphemistically, only those directed from above).

But the 1980s harmony between national and local initiative began to dampen during the Special Period economic crisis of the 90s.  The presidencies of this organization at the neighborhood block level began to fall into the hands of people interested in concealing illegal activities (that’s to say actions that are formally prohibited and sanctioned, but generally accepted by the community).

Contrarily however, national initiatives exhibited themselves as more abstract and formalistic than ever, or as they like to emphasize: “In line with Fidel.”

Today it seems the central office of the CDR has at the same time more resources and more desires than ever for people to be passive and not rock the boat.  That office has created a group of colorful posters to be put up on the bulletin board of each CDR across the country.

Through these boards we are alerted as to what our tasks as CDR members should be. We are reminded of the concept of the Revolution (with a big photo of its inventor) and are explicitly made aware of which political activities we should participate in: only those “DIRECTED WITH QUALITY” (or, less euphemistically, only those directed from above).

Fifty years on we’re still being instilled with values and guided in political activities, while almost all spontaneous grassroots initiatives are viewed with suspicion.

That’s why every day when I leave the house and run into this bulletin board it makes me think the years are going to go by and wonder what will happen. I wonder if everything is going to pass right by me and remain the same… And I think, if no one’s looking, I should tear off a corner of the board.


Erasmo Calzadilla

Erasmo Calzadilla: I find it difficult to introduce myself in public. I've tried many times but it doesn’t flow. I’m more less how I appear in my posts, add some unpresentable qualities and stir; that should do for a first approach. If you want to dig a little deeper, ask me for an appointment and wait for a reply.

4 thoughts on “My Neighborhood Bulletin Board

  • P.S. Your bulletin-board examples remind me of a certain hilarious scene from the early ICAIC film “Death of a Bureaucrat,” though in that case certain Revolutionary virtues were illustrated on a bulletin board (in that case by the Association of Revulutionary Morticians) by certain curvacious chicas who were modeled in cheese-cake poses!

  • As usual, Erasmo, you’ve gone right to the roots of the problem. Whether religions or revolutions, after a time enthusiasm wanes, and turns to ossification, spontenaity to formulism, grass-roots participation to top-down hierarchy. The questions: Is History circular, or linear? Are we always condemned to repeating the same process, like Sysiphus? or can we really, err, to use a popular phrase, “Build a Better World”? I really hope our race can do better than repeating past mistakes. Only by allowing spontenaety from below, by encouraging authentic, rather than orchestrated, participation on the grass-roots level, can the Revolution flourish.

  • Remember too that your future can only lie with the ALBA confederacy — both political-economic and militarily.

    There will be little chance of reforming the CDRs, for instance, without concrete resources made available for the urgent projects each community requires, and has needed for probably a very long time now. So, without i.e. ‘concrete’ from Venezuela, etc., with which to re/build the crumbling infrastructure of the island, you people will continue into deepening trouble, indeed. Thus the need for collective ALBA security: to neutralize the looming threat from north american and european imperialism in all the ALBA countries — and their clear attempt to break up ALBA and subvert the various progressive national projects of each country.

    And so I sure hope you can see the connection with what I just wrote and the ‘concrete’ daily praxis of each and every humble Committee in Defence of the Revolution.

  • Once more: the imperialists WILL strangle all attempts at building socialism on the island of Cuba IF socialism does not spread to other countries — first and foremost the latin american ones. So it’s not in the least surprising that yet another poor country with little industrial infrastructure is simply making a bad go at building socialism, against constant provocations. The cuban revolution does not have 2 billion+ wage slaves to extract wealth from, as do the imperialists, to dispense with as they please. Like on weaponry, murder and subversion.

    I’m sure you can see all these connections here — but the point is to accept that these are the unavoidable facts of the matter. There’s no magic road out of this impasse. If you people do not continue to hang on — the U.S. mafia will win. And then you will look back on this time as actually a better time — as many east europeans are today finding out, under open capitalist thrall.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *