One could say that since this past March, and maybe even before, we Cubans were already being called on at our jobs and schools as well as through political and mass organizations to participate in a military and civic parade set to take place in the historic Revolution Square in Havana.
The event to be commemorated on April 16 was the 50th anniversary of the victory over the Bay of Pigs invasion and the proclamation of the socialist character of the Cuban Revolution. These anniversaries in turn served to mark the beginning of the Sixth Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba.
I also understand that before the end of 2010, members of the armed forces were already practicing for the military parade because this required the coordination and discipline of the troops to achieve the precision needed for a parade of this magnitude. Such major events need an extended period of preparation; they can’t be improvised or unprepared because they wouldn’t meet their objectives.
As the world is caught in an economic and financial crisis that has not spared Cuba, this recently held party congress was organized solely and exclusively around addressing the problems of the island’s economy. However, only 15 days after the April 16 march, another march was held on May Day.
This was another mass action that required enormous resources for transporting of thousands of people to Revolution Square, providing security, organizing the activity, and maintaining ambulances, medical posts, food services and numbers of other significant safeguards necessary for the success of the event.
But I had to wonder: Is the country in any condition to undertake such events? Why are we having back-to-back marches if we’re being asked to conserve resources? I know that Cuba has to demonstrate to the world the popular support for the revolution in this battle to update our social-economic model, but it’s also necessary to think rationally.
I don’t think that it’s by chance that we’re constantly bombarded by multiple media campaigns on resource conservation – ones calling on the public to use only those lights necessary at home and in the workplace, to not turn on the air conditioning while we work, to conserve water because of the drought and so many other measures forced on us by the increase in the price of gasoline.
But it’s completely contradictory what they’re asking of us. I’m conscious that these two calls to Revolution Square within fifteen days were politically necessary, but it’s also necessary that people think with their feet on the ground.
What comes to mind is a famous phrase by Maximo Gomez, who was born in the Dominican Republic but was one of the great leaders of our wars of independence. He said on one occasion that Cubans tend to either never quite achieve something or they go too far.
So how does our conservation effort stack up?