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 The subsequent collapse of Communist socialism across the globe, left these heroic individuals in the category of outdated heroes, with no use.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.