Who Offered Children’s Blood?

Cuban Junior High Students.  Photo: Caridad
Cuban Junior High Students. Photo: Caridad

Erasmo Calzadilla

Every school-year morning, between Monday and Friday, children arrive early to the “November 7th” Junior High School in the Alamar neighborhood, just to the east of Havana, while even the birds are still waking in the trees.

Despite the routine of the scene, its charm is enduring.  Once again life sprouts and new spirits emerge.  But the aftertaste is soured when minutes after beginning the school day, teachers order the youngsters to repeat the school motto:

“If sovereignty depends on the blood of a young pioneer (Cuban grade school students)…

“Commander-in-chief give the orders, you can count on mine.”

From whose head sprang such a twisted idea?

I’m convinced it didn’t come from a child.  It seems more likely this occurred to somebody worried about sowing -as soon as possible in the impressionable minds of adolescents- a siege mentality that justifies the absence of freedom, the obscurity of fear and kids’ convictions to put themselves at the disposal of the great leader.

Or maybe not.  Perhaps it was merely the work of some imagination-less person wanting to ingratiate themself with his/her superiors…

Children’s choruses like this must have shook the temples of war-loving Sparta; I can also imagine them coming from the mouths of boys and girls in Nazi Germany, or chanted by the children in Franco’s Spain, and assuredly these were not allowed to escape the preschoolers of the extinct socialist camp.

Do today’s Chinese have similar mottos?  Who do North Korea’s kids offer their lives to?

It matters little who came up with the idea of making Cuban youngsters sing such an anthem if almost everyone -from the parents to the Minister of Education- accepts and applauds it.

Those who recognize the madness say nothing, perhaps so as not to get their children in trouble, or to keep their job, or out of pure and simple apathy.

It doesn’t matter who threw the first stone; the rest become accomplices in their silence, and everything continues along just the same – but for how much longer?

How long will it take to wake people up?  How much more must be tolerated before rebelling against the hegemony of the half-wits?  I believe things will drag on, but lately signs of change have been appearing more frequently.

4 thoughts on “Who Offered Children’s Blood?

  • It’s up to the cuban people to establish if “socialism experimentation” is to be over or not.It’s easy to see that you has not been the “being” subject to such a nightmerish “test” for over 50 years.Cuba is not a laboratory and you are not it’s owner .So the commanding verbage you use it’s out of place
    It’s easy to study the cuban experiment as you “look trough the glass” from somewhere high and dry.

  • And they “pledge allegiance to the Flag of these United States” too, in U.S. schools and elsewhere in the ‘Free World’. Not to mention the myriad ways this is driven home in the mass-propaganda media, daily, hourly and by-the-minute. And when I was young too, there were various ways in which we were expected more openly to demonstate our ‘love’ for the british monarchy… So capturing the minds of the young is indeed one of the first steps in indoctrination and enslavement of the human mind, in any State — but still: it is indeed very un-socialist. Undemocratic. And very undialectical.

    We should certainly be expecting something better out of Cuba. The justification of course, is the constant threat of subversion and invasion from imperialism — which is no joke or lie. But still: we really must be expecting something better out of Cuba. AFAIC this can only come with changing the nature and praxis of the democratic socialist state.

  • Cuba has lots of problems. Preparing the youth to resist a threatened invasion from the US is not one of them.

    One of her problems is that the dysfunction of bureaucratic socialism engenders such dissatisfaction among the people that otherwise patriotic persons like the author begin to yearn for a capitalist candyland, even at the expense of a loss of national sovereignty.

    May I suggest that the author turn his attention to the real problem of “how” to reform Cuban socialism, so that it unleashes the entrepreneurial spirit of cooperative corporation leaders and the productive capacity of Cuba’s working people. This sort of constructive, patriotic, problem-solving endeavor is much more called for than a rant against a school motto.

    Cuba’s experiment in socialism isn’t over. Its original hypothesis has proved all or largely false, but there is still time to begin a new experiment to test a cooperative socialist hypothesis.

    Or, is the author simply a pro-capitalist?

  • Fanaticism and unquestioning obedience have been the hallmark of totalitarian regimes throughout human history. The Castro regime is no different.

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