Pretending, the Only Way to Get Ahead in Cuba

By Pedro Pablo Morejon

Photo: Juan Suarez

HAVANA TIMES – I have always been a loudmouth. When I have something on my mind, I have to let it out because if I don’t, I feel a tightness in my chest that doesn’t let me breathe.

Somebody always used to tell me: “Be smart, be like that guy who was more of a “worm” than you, but he never said anything, and he headed north when he got the chance. Your tongue is your worst enemy, that tongue is going to bury you.”

That person really cared about me. He graduated with an honors degree from the University of Life, but he didn’t understand that “worm” is a derogatory term to refer to someone who didn’t agree with the ruling party during a certain era. Just like he didn’t understand that a person’s dignity is the most important thing in life. Because hope isn’t the last thing you lose, dignity is. You can live without hope, but without dignity, you can stick hope where the sun doesn’t shine.

And yes, he was right apparently. The greatest social problems I’ve faced have been the result of my attitude of not forcing myself into the mold that has been designed for us.

I don’t feel like marching on May 1st like a little lamb, or going on “CDR” neighborhood watch shifts, or shouting out stupid slogans, or being one more among the masses. The pseudo-intelligent behavior of many Cubans who pretend so they can go up the ladder in this closed society really ticks me off, because then they emigrate and become hardcore anti-Castristas, but only in speech.

I have always wanted to get ahead in life, go up in society, leave my mark on the world, transcend… However, I learned a while ago that in order to aspire for a more comfortable life in Cuba, you have to dance to the beat of the Castro drum, although they are secretly damned in the safe intimacy of thought.

“Whoever doesn’t like this, should leave,” I heard an unprincipled man say once, who carried the Communist label and is now living in Miami.

I am now in my 40s. Honestly, I still only see one way of getting ahead in Cuba: Joining the masses and sticking my elbows deep in the pretense. I would really get ahead in just a few years because I have a way with words. I become a backup cadre for a petty boss to start off with, or I take over the management of a union local, etc.  And I don’t stop until I’m an important administrative or political cadre within the Party.

I have a questionable reputation, but they know how to forgive those who “set themselves straight”. So, in about 10 years’ time, I’ll have a car, nice house, and many other comforts. I’ll have to lie more than Pinocchio in order to do this, crush my fellow Cubans, kiss asses… it makes me sick just thinking about it.

The only other option is to surrender myself to Divine Providence and hope that once old age hits me, I can be a calm old man, full of peace, watching my children and grandchildren progress in a prosperous country, where people don’t have to emigrate or pretend in order to get ahead. In the meantime, I find refuge in my writing.


Pedro Morejón

I am a man who fights for his goals, who assumes the consequences of his actions, who does not stop at obstacles. I could say that adversity has always been an inseparable companion, I have never had anything easy, but in some sense, it has benefited my character. I value what is in disuse, such as honesty, justice, honor. For a long time, I was tied to ideas and false paradigms that suffocated me, but little by little I managed to free myself and grow by myself. Today I am the one who dictates my morale, and I defend my freedom against wind and tide. I also build that freedom by writing, because being a writer defines me.

3 thoughts on “Pretending, the Only Way to Get Ahead in Cuba

  • Thanks Dan, regards

  • Pedro you have a gift brother, just keep writing regardless of what else you do. I always read your pieces first when they show up. And of course we all hope and wish for a bright future for Cuba, eventually.

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