Veronica Vega

vero1HAVANA TIMES – No one who relies on facts can deny that lies are institutionalized in Cuba from the time of our earliest infancy.  We are not taught to discern, but rather to repeat, and we are trained to cooperate in the simulation, the prearranged inspections.

Our children learn quickly that to question or denounce what is wrong only brings problems…and nothing gets solved.  This is moral misery.  And spiritual.  It’s the insect that burrows into the cement pillars of society itself.

According to Aristotle, the way it is for those above reveals how it will be below.  The population merely reproduces a code of conduct that they have assimilated.  The fact that those who demand abstinence are precisely those who fail to practice it has been true in practically all the social systems.

For that reason, it’s the individual who can and should make the difference. Avoiding personal corruption is within their objective radius of power and is their direct responsibility.

The population merely reproduces a code of conduct that they have assimilated. The fact that those who demand abstinence are precisely those who fail to practice it has been true in practically all the social systems.

I know that happiness doesn’t come from material wealth.  The high incidence of suicide in the most prosperous countries sums up this most ancient truth.

Today, even in Cuba, it’s possible to not take antidepressants and be depressed, even though in our compulsion to survive many don’t reveal it, or may even remain unaware of it.

The statistics regarding alcoholism on this island (and of suicides as well) reflect the escape valves we use to vent this unhappiness that we don’t discuss.

When I visited France in 2011 and entered the stores, not only was I stupefied by the over-abundance; but I asked myself what might be the final balance of so much wealth.  I know that everything exerts a physical, human economic and ecolological price.

I am particularly grateful to have lived with so little, because this has made me more sensitive: to excess as well as to shortage.

I am particularly grateful to have lived with so little, because this has made me more sensitive: to excess as well as to shortage.

As a child, I only had two toys, but my sisters and myself made little dolls with scraps of cloth stuffed with cotton wads.  We created little houses out of cardboard boxes, converted books into doll beds and we were happy.

One objective example that it’s possible to be happy amid the greatest poverty is, without a doubt, San Francisco de Asis.  Although he is a figure from the western world, we ourselves know little about him.  As with Jesus himself, there is more myth, fear and taboo than serious information.

San Francisco founded three orders: the Franciscans (for men), the Poor Clares (for women) and the Third Order for people with family commitments who couldn’t abandon these ties but wanted to develop spiritually.  He prescribed to them how to live a simple life and how to assure that their wealth did not bind them nor become a source of vice.

Nonetheless, the first requirement for entrance into any of those orders was sincerity.

vero2Francisco, who had voluntarily abandoned his privileged social position, knew that forced abstinence can debase a man and that the repression of desires doesn’t generate a liberation, but instead can give rise to dangerous forms of neurosis.

It’s in this sense that Cubans have shown themselves to be essentially oriented towards consumerism, and the long period of frugality has been tolerated only on the promise of future prosperity.

In a debate on “The Anthropology of the Cuban”, published in the magazine Espacio Laical , I expressed that my aspiration for Cuba was:

“To decriminalize prosperity, as Yoani Sánchz says, but also to decriminalize poverty.  Because there’s a double standard: the officially imposed austerity and as a violent reaction, an alarming policy of consumerism that affects not only (although yes, especially) the younger generations.  There’s a hypocrisy around prosperity, pitting the shame of need against the fact of possession, even if it’s illicit.  We shouldn’t have to put a mask of false happiness onto our lives.”

Finally, I would love to see a national survey done (anonymously) with the question: “Are you happy?”  Without specifying “in Cuba”, because happiness is in itself the country that all of us are looking for, free of the borders of time or politics.


Veronica Vega

Veronica Vega: I believe that truth has power and the word can and should be an extension of the truth. I think that is also the role of Art and the media. I consider myself an artist, but above all, a seeker and defender of the Truth as an essential element of what sustains human existence and consciousness. I believe that Cuba can and must change and that websites like Havana Times contribute to that necessary change.

11 thoughts on “Cuba: Imposed Austerity vs. Alarming Consumerism

  • I don’t own a car.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *