The Fading Colors of My Flag

Jorge Milanes Despaigne

Photo: Caridad

From when I was a child, I remember my father going off to participate in the sugar harvest at a time when the country was engrossed in the attempt to harvest no less than 10 million tons of sugar.

My dad became one of the vanguard workers of that historic epoch of cane cutting. This was something that made me proud, but it wasn’t so much for the number of stalks that he would cut, but because he would earn an “incentive”: either a week at the Varadero beach resort or an invitation to special meetings that were really tremendous feasts where one didn’t have to pay a dime – and where I wouldn’t be far behind him.

Some of these activities were political, and in one of these they gave him a beautiful Cuban flag, which for many years we cared for and put on display at our home on commemorative occasions.

Historically—as a true sign of identity, patriotism and heroic values—the Cuban flag has been and is the reason for all of us. However, over the years my flag and its colors have been getting lighter, so its deterioration is now clearly perceptible.

Today I passed through a very crowded tourist establishment, where among other goods they were selling Cuban flags. I picked one of them up and found that it measured five feet long and three feet wide. Above that group of flags was a small tag that indicated the price in CUCs (hard currency Convertible Cuban Pesos). This triggered a concern on my part that I’m sure is shared by many other citizens here on the island.

It’s true that we Cubans no longer perform those activities in which we would go home with a flag. Nor is it so easy to display one in any of our main festivals (such as the annual Committee for the Defense of the Revolution fiesta, the Anniversary of the Triumph of the Revolution or the July 26 celebration).

However neither is it easy to fork up the 15.00 CUC (a month’s salary for many) they ask for to buy a new flag, and they don’t sell them in national currency in any of our stores.

Jorge Milanes

Jorge Milanes: My name is Jorge Milanes Despaigne, and I’m a tourism promoter and public relations specialist. Forty-five years ago I was born in Cojimar, a small coastal town to the east of Havana. I very much enjoy trips and adventure; and now that I know a good bit about my own country, I’d like to learn more about other nations. I enjoy reading, singing, dancing, haute cuisine and talking with interesting people who offer wisdom and happiness.

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