Nothing reminds me more of the army than Cuban schools. They are institutions for the perpetuation of the dominant ideology.
They have morning sessions, evening sessions, student meetings, parent meetings and involve the training of detachments. They seem like a kind of preparation for our conversion into the “new person” desired by Che Guevara.
In Che’s letter El Socialismo y el hombre en Cuba (Socialism and Man in Cuba), published in March 1965, there appear some of the guidelines projected for the future revolutionary.
Overall, these consist of strict control of education and human behavior. The school has therefore been the ideal factory for the production of revolutionaries designed in the government’s laboratories.
Education in Cuba is universal and obligatory. However private schools don’t exist, so families don’t have an alternative. Their children must spend eight hours being influenced by ideas that may or may not be in tune with those of the parents.
It’s in school where we learn our first “revolutionary” concepts “Nation or death,” “We shall overcome” and “We shall be like Che” are some of the slogans that we have to repeat ad nauseam, without even knowing exactly what the hell they mean. Another idea that we’ll soon discover around that age is the one of “democracy.”
In the beginning I believed it to be “something good that only existed here”; in other words, that the benevolent government “gives” us everything we have and that it has done everything for us, which is why we’re so happy. Wealth was snatched from the “bad guys” so that we would all have the same amounts.
When you grow up a little you realize that that the egalitarianism so actively promoted doesn’t exist. Some people in Cuba are entitled to things that the majority cannot dream of having. This same majority —that sometimes finds out about the government’s decisions through filtered information, or because it’s broadcast on foreign radio stations— does not dream of participating in those decisions either. This, as far as I understand it, is not democracy.
Democracy is a concept that has been managed in a clever way throughout our history. Since antiquity, when it arose, it was understood as “the power of the people,” but the word “people” didn’t have the same meaning that it does today.
“The people” were something like the heads of households with money, and/or those with positions in government. Later this notion was used in the French and Cuban revolutions, and in a countless number of organizations that masquerade behind the apparent benevolence of “democracy.”
Here, democracy is assumed to be the people united around that great figure who has a project for all, while those people who differ from him are known as “worms” and are unworthy of consideration.
For me, democracy is the power to participate, and in this way the subordinates influence the decisions that affect them. Or am I mistaken?