Portraits of Cuban teenagers

Irina Pino

Cuban teenagers.
Cuban teenagers.

HAVANA TIMES — “We’re going to play”, I’ve heard my son, who studies at pre-university (senior high school), say this frequently, but it’s not playing an instrument that they’re talking about, of course, but to smoke certain cigarettes…

It’s clear that this is why they hide; one of the places that they have chosen is a part of the school that is half-destroyed, where supposedly nobody goes. They use the money their parents give them to have a snack to buy cigarettes. They smoke locked in the bathroom. Sometimes they greet each other and ask one another: do you have a bate (bat) there? Bate is slang, it’s a cigarette really.

The greetings they use are: What’s up! What’s going on asere! And they call each other papa, papi and loco all the time instead of calling them by their proper names. This is typical.

The music scene that surrounds them, what is trending right now, is rap and Puerto Rican reggaeton. Daddy Yankee, Nikki Jan, Farruko, Maluma. Meanwhile, other kids listen to electronic music, like Skriller. The latter are fans of manga magazines.

They love to “dar chucho” – when I was young we called it “cortar leva”-, that is to say, make fun of others, but these practices are becoming more regular, and they now include anybody, from the elderly, strangers on the street to teachers.

They call their parents “puros”, their mothers “mostra”, words that can make people laugh, but where vocabulary is transformed and violated.

Their conversations mostly center around soccer, the latest musicians, superhero movies, electronic gadgets. They spend their breaks attached to their phones, as if these were already another part of their bodies.

A boy in my neighborhood, who studies at the Technical Accounting High School tells me that there is a criminal environment there, students are agressive and they hate numbers. Why are they studying economy then? The answer is simple: for not having a good enough level to enter the pre-university studies, they have been given a chance at a medium level technical school, something like giving out left-overs.

Bad behavior is seen on an everyday basis, teenagers answer teachers back, they don’t hold back with their insults and their curse words; when they are told they have to cut their hair, that they can’t dye it another color, that they must wear their uniform trousers properly, not tailored, or tight, as if they were leggings. Girls have to wear long skirts (not miniskirts) and socks up to their knees.

Many teachers are to blame, because they don’t know how to deal with inappropriate behavior, they themselves wear these kinds of clothes to school. So on what moral grounds can they demand this of these young boys and girls, if they themselves do not comply with the established rules of proper clothing, as well as not commanding the respect that the teacher figure should?

Teenagers don’t want to comply with these rules, and they rebel, that’s understandable, it’s happened throughout history. Everybody who has an opinion is blamed for having external influences, internet access, alienation of the world, apathy, and the loss of human and civil values… however, this also happens because of the lack of appeal that education programs offer young people, where teaching becomes mechanical, all you have to do is memorize things, repeat like a parrot, without taking individuality and personal arguments into account. A foreign language, music education, research workshops about film, literature and history aren’t included in our education curricula. There are many ways of stirring up the curiosity of the student body, and taking them away from the trivial, at least during school hours.

Rigid education is the worst seed, it destroys the imagination, fantasy and kills off the candor of our youth.

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Irina Pino

Irina Pino: I was born in the middle of shortages in those sixties that marked so many patterns in the world. Although I currently live in Miramar, I miss the city center with its cinemas and theaters, and the bohemian atmosphere of Old Havana, where I often go. Writing is the essential thing in my life, be it poetry, fiction or articles, a communion of ideas that identifies me. With my family and my friends, I get my share of happiness.

Irina Pino has 266 posts and counting. See all posts by Irina Pino

9 thoughts on “Portraits of Cuban teenagers

  • It has worked greatly, thank you for asking 🙂

  • Plenty heartbreaks Moses for the Cuban people however I get a chuckle daily reading some of the posts. John G. is one of the best but there’s a few more that are coming on board. I’m sure we’re occasionally included.

  • Sounds like regular kids to me. Perhaps there is gran esperanza for Cuba after all. Thanks for the post Irina.

  • Not a word about Cuban teenagers? Are you at the right blog?

  • I like your observation: “A foreign language, music education, research workshops about film, literature and history aren’t included in our education curricula …” That alone will give the imaginations of youth an outlet. Jim

  • Show me your friends and i tell you who you are.

  • As China so eloquently put it, Democracy
    sucks when the USA has 99% of its citizens being controlled and
    manipulated by the 1%’ers, and the 1%’ers are a small group of
    greedy, old, grey-haired white men who continually proclaim to love
    America, and at the same time continually bleeding the country dry.
    goo.gl/XXMA8j

    They remind me of Vampires on the hunt for their next
    meal.
    Individuals treat their pets better than their neighbors in
    America.
    Have you seen any hungry dog’s lately?
    Today the only
    difference between capitalism and gangsterism is that capitalism has
    succeeded in legalizing its gangsterism and, thus, can strike a
    harder bargain than can the Mafia.
    but if we:….
    Eliminate
    Western embargo’s, blockades, and sanctions, then Socialist
    countries, and other Non-Democratic countries, would be much better
    off overall.
    If America could refrain from forcibly “saving”
    other countries, maybe this world would be a better place to
    peacefully live in.
    Not everyone wants to be a Christian!!!!
    Stop forcing our ideals on everyone
    else!!!!!!!!!!!!
    There isn’t anything wrong with non-Democratic
    countries, it’s this multi-phobic country we all live in, starting
    with our own Government. goo.gl/XXMA8j

  • Ronin,
    We see how well that has worked in the past, right here in the good old US. The good old Beat them into submission rule, huh? How’s that working for you?

  • It appears that a little ass whooping is order. No matter how difficult life may be, there is no excuse for tolerating unacceptable behavior by teenagers. If history has taught us anything, it’s that if you do nothing in the face of adversity, it will consume you.

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