HAVANA TIMES – We have experienced tough times in our country, some more than others, but the Cuban people have always suffered countless shortages; it was only thanks to aid from the COMECON (Socialist bloc) that we were better off for a while, when everything was readily available and quite cheap on the whole.
The toughest time Cubans experienced was in the ‘90s, with the so-called Special Period, with blackouts lasting over half a day, without anything to eat, no transport whatsoever, etc; and things really did reach breaking point.
There are many stories from those trying days, which are best kept locked away in our memories. Yet the majority of Cubans faced and put up with that awful time, even in those conditions. Especially women who worked wonders in the kitchen so that their children were able to put something in their mouths at least once a day. If anyone deserves credit for that time in this country, it’s Cuban women. They knew how to overcome the toughest times with hard work, modesty and integrity.
However, over time and as things gradually got worse, the general population has lost some of human beings’ best values, and this continues today, even among families, friends and society as a whole. The president Diaz Canel recently voiced his concern in this regard at the last session of the National Assembly of People’s Power. Raul Castro also did this when it was his time in power. Today, you can hear remarks on the street by people who are worried about the situation.
Just a few days ago, I bore witness to a horrible scene. I was crossing the Cathedral Plaza in Havana when I saw how a woman speaking to a very small girl. She pointed to a group of Spanish tourists and egged her on to ask them for some candy or money. The girl did exactly that, and yes, they even carried her and gave her a few things. Both the woman (I’m not sure if she was the child’s mother) and the girl were well-dressed and not at all skinny, you could tell that they weren’t in dire need of help.
I have seen similar cases around this area on other occasions and I wonder: where are these people’s values? And the values of people who send their children to hang around hotels and hunt down foreigners so they can “fall in love” with them, marry them, take them far away so they can receive the prize: a few miserable pesos or cheap trinkets.
What father or mother can sleep at night after teaching their child to beg, to prostitute themselves? Scenes like this one, unprincipled people like these, leave a great deal to be desired from a society which aspires to be a global reference of correctness and ethical values.
So, if we really want dignified Cubans and a dignified country, respected by others, we will have to fight to get rid of the miserly philosophy of getting godforsaken money no matter what the cost.
Ideology or race don’t matter, nor does a person’s sexual orientation or religion, we just need a society where people don’t become werewolves, but brothers and sisters instead. A society with ethical values and especially a sense of belonging, identity and inner light. Would that be possible? If we do manage to achieve this one day, then we can be happy and proud to call ourselves Cuban.