Are Values Really Missing in Cuba?

By Jorge Milanes

Havana bus stop. Photo: Juan Suarez

HAVANA TIMES – Delays, impatience and even violence are protagonists in any situation Cubans find themselves in nowadays. It’s understandable given the number of people who congregate, for example, at Havana’s bus stops.

“New buses started running two months ago, and they are already out-of-sync with the timetable. Like the popular saying goes: a new broom sweeps well, a woman said who had been waiting a while at a bus stop. There was also a very extremely slim young man waiting for the bus. He was holding a bag on his only arm.

A few minutes later, the bus came, putting on the brakes a several meters before reaching the stop. The slim young man tried to reach it, but with the stampede of people, the driver took a few seconds to decide whether he was going to open the doors or not. 

In the middle of that situation, I saw how the young man tried to get onboard, and he only just about managed to stay upright. I decided to give him a hand, but a desperate old man showed up, pushing him out of the way with his elbow, no shame whatsoever. People protested, but even so, the old man managed to knock the young man off his feet, who fell on the curb.

The bag he was holding on his arm fell to the ground and the young man’s lunch for work spilled out of a container.

We couldn’t do anything but help the young man, while insults from passengers on the bus made the aggressor beat it down the road.

“Driver, go on,” the young man said, with a hand gesture. 

“Then they say that young people are the ones in need of values,” a person said, and others repeated this.

Statistics published in the media, as well as recent demographic studies, reveal that the Cuban population has aged. It’s no longer a secret to anyone. Is this why inappropriate behavior by the elderly has become more visible?

Traditionally, a lack of values has always been associated with young people because of their vigor and lack of experience. However, in Cuba, it’s been a while now that we have been seeing cases like the one above. Old people today are the young people of yesteryear. Young people in the ‘50s and ’60s. Is this the loss of values that their elders attributed to this generation in their day that is being established today?  

When I was little, I always heard people say “young people are lost” and other similar phrases. So much so, that it reached the point that I thought that ethics and values were something only older people had, as if it were something you acquired with age.

I will continue to observe this population group, because I will also figure among them soon and I hope I don’t resemble them too much.

6 thoughts on “Are Values Really Missing in Cuba?

  • Publix is a store owned by its well paid full time employees and a store with a long running culture of customer service. The employees treat the customers well because they are treated well a circle of virtue.

  • Is that a comment upon Justin Trudeau Tim C.?

  • There will always be jerks in every race, religion, age and country. Never judge groups of people by the actions of just one of them… Unless of course, one of the jerks happens to become the leader of your own country. Unfortunately that seems to be happening all too often, every where in the world lately.
    Canadian Guy.

  • Every generation says the younger generation are lost and rude , always, everywhere not just Cuba, in fact most young people tend to be very respectful of their elders.

  • Manners and civility are things of the past in Cuba and the sad part is that people are accepting it as a norm. A couple of years ago I accompanied my niece to a Havana pharmacy. I was looking for hydrogen peroxide. I politely ask one of the clerks if I could ask her a question. She was writing and completely ignored me. I asked a second time thinking she might not have heard me. It wasn’t until a third time I asked that she gave me a hateful look and told me to stop bothering her. I reminded her that if she would have not ignored me two previous times I would have left her alone. A few days later I came home to Orlando and went to my local Publix where not one, but three store clerks voluntarily offered to assist me throughout the store. It made me feel fortunate I now live here, but it also made me wonder how long before in this negative political climate people will turn nasty here also.

  • Thabk you Jorge fod a very interesting article about daily life in Havana.

Comments are closed.