Submissiveness in Cuba

Kabir Vega Castellanos

Agromercado.  Foto: Juan Suárez
Agromercado. Foto: Juan Suárez

HAVANA TIMES — Submissiveness is something that I’ve been aware of in Cuba ever since elementary school, my first social milieu. There was a teacher who was treating us abusively, and while he was out of the room all of us agreed to speak our minds to him. Nevertheless, when the time came, I was the only one who was willing to act.

In middle and high school, it was exactly the same. We all spoke terribly about the teachers; we complained, planned to rebel, but in the end the only thing that everybody turned out to be in full agreement with was to give up.

Several friends have recently been telling appalling stories about their experiences in military service: the oppressive atmosphere, the hunger, the degrading treatment and the general discontent of the young men who are drafted against their will.

Those that can’t stand it opt for extreme solutions like fleeing, which is also useless, self-harm or even suicide.

Comparing the testimonies of those who are now undergoing this experience with that of friends who went through it years ago, it’s evident that there have been some minimal changes, although we don’t know if it’s because of these same cases or due to complaints that reached a higher or further ear.

Nonetheless, as far as organized protests are concerned, I don’t know of anybody who has heard of such a thing. One acquaintance told me how the level of discontent in his unit was such that it seemed impossible to contain. They talked about rebelling, and even came up with some strategies, but at the crucial moment, they melted into cowardice. The most that happened was to see the energy deflected into jokes.

Perhaps one of the strangest examples is that of the state salaries. Everybody – no exceptions – complains and suffers day by day because they aren’t enough to live on even for a week, not to mention a month. But the same people continue on at the same jobs, waiting for a retirement in which the only thing guaranteed them is every kind of neediness in their old age.

Maybe this is just one more detail about how the human mind works in this world, or perhaps it’s a tendency specific to this society where one of the first things you learn is to accept everything that doesn’t work and with which you really don’t agree.

Nevertheless, I still can’t understand how those affected by a situation could decide to do absolutely nothing to try and change it.

Kabir Vega

I am a young man whose development in life has not been what many might consider normal or appropriate, but I don’t regret it. Although I am very reserved, I dissent strongly from many things. I believe that society, and not only of Cuba, is wrong and needs to change. I love animals sometimes even more than myself since they lack evil. I am also a fan of the world of Otaku. I started in Havana Times because it allowed me to tell some experiences and perhaps encourage some change in my country. I may be naive in my arguments, but I am true to my principles.

3 thoughts on “Submissiveness in Cuba

  • Submissiveness has been conditioned by 55 years of the Castro dictatorship. The arrests, beatings, televised executions, and constant propaganda have worked. This is Cuba’s New Man.

  • The hard conditions in Cuba are , if not the direct result of the intentions of the U.S.G.’s embargo to deeply impoverish the country , then certainly exist, in large part, to the effects of the 54 year embargo.
    Were the embargo NOT effective, why would the U.S G. have continued it for so long ?
    The embargo strategy had two parts: first impoverish the entire population so that part two: the counter-revolution and return to free enterprise capitalism would occur.
    Part one worked very well.
    Part two: not much at all. Most Cubans still support their revolution/government .
    because, unlike a great many, most Cubans realize that their problems are imposed upon them by the Empire and hard times are what can be expected in this sort of war when your enemy is the world’s only hyper-power .
    Secondly: Whether Cuban or U.S., we all live in totalitarian societies and following orders comes more naturally to us than the idea that majority rule ( democracy) is a better way to live.
    Both governments are top down with little to no input or control by those ruled .
    Both nations are capitalist and therefore totalitarian.
    . The USA is a free enterprise (privately held) form and the Cubans have a state form under which a state official rather than a CEO determines who gets the surplus from the workplaces.
    Both nations follow totalitarian religions -you can’t question God.
    Both nations largely maintain the male-dominated nuclear family structure
    So all this talk of freedom and democracy rings hollow because we all seem to prefer to stand back and be told what to do rather than do the hard work that democratic societal systems require.
    We don’t really like or want democracy.
    Think about that.

  • Cuba is a dictatorship. I do not think we should be surprised that people choose to obey rather than rebel. They know perfectly well that the punishment can be severe for any behavior deemed “antirevolutionary.”

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