The Ups and Downs of Cuba’s Heroes

By Pedro Pablo Morejon

HAVANA TIMES – I once read that a hero is someone just like you and me, the only difference being that they can’t run away from a situation. I found this in some tongue-in-cheek articles that made me laugh.

However, there is some truth to this condition in many cases. If the hero doesn’t manage his objective well, he becomes a martyr.

For totalitarian systems, both heroes and martyrs are normally quite useful for their propaganda apparatus, but a martyr is different in that it can’t change its fate, which has been set in stone, and even schools and hospitals are baptized after them.

While the hero – which is very relative within a tyrannical society – can stop being a hero. Whether that’s because of circumstance, their attitude, or the whim of rulers.

I know one hero from my town. He is almost sixty years old and is a war veteran from the Angolan war. He fought in two battles, including the one at Cuito-Cuanavale. He displayed bravery in one of them and managed to save some of his fellow soldiers. He received many medals as a result, upon his return to Cuba.

So-called Proletarian internationalism – expressed in wars promoted in Asia, Africa and Latin America – was still in force. So, he made an epic comeback. The glory didn’t last very long. The subsequent collapse of Communist socialism across the globe, left these heroic individuals in the category of outdated heroes, with no use.

Time has made sure to name new heroes. Now, you can see them in vice-minister positions and positions of power within the caste system, just because they were spies who knew how to remain loyal to their boss.

The common denominator lies in the disposable nature of a hero in Cuba, and the amount of use and benefit they can give those in power.

Disposable heroes have existed in recent decades. The most vulnerable to losing this status were people who were given death sentences or have served long prison sentences.

In this hodge-podge of volatility, there are heroes who live in mansions, who get around in luxury cars and enjoy pleasures and privileges that the population wouldn’t even be able to see up-close; while others, like the man in my town, fight between apathy, alcohol addiction and poverty, every single day.

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.

One thought on “The Ups and Downs of Cuba’s Heroes

  • In Cuba, unsuccessful spies are decorated as “Hero of the Republic” and appointed to supervisory positions and/or as members of the Poder Popular. Their very failure in being caught and imprisoned, is turned into a propaganda success story. That reflects the fact that incompetence by members of the Communist Party of Cuba is accepted as the norm.

    It is that incompetence that has driven the Cuban economy and with it the living standards of the subjected people of Cuba into penury.

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