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.