Adios September 28

Warhol P.   

"The CDR is always on guard." Photo: Dariela Aquique

HAVANA TIMES, Oct. 2 — I live in one of the many marginal neighborhoods of Havana, and ever since I can remember, whenever the date of September 28 started to approach, the residents on each block are summoned to a gathering of their CDR (Committee for the Defense of the Revolution).

It’s something that had become a ritual over time, so everyone knows that it also involves neighbors going around taking up a collection of anything that can go in a person’s mouth during the block party festivities.

In my way of looking at things, it’s an anniversary (of the CDRs) that almost nobody takes much of an interest in any more.  I’ve seen even less of that old spirit in the last few years.

The truth is that this year on my block nothing at all was done because at the meeting the night before, no one could come to an agreement about how things were supposed to be handled.

There was someone who said they would kick in some oil to make salad dressing, but then someone else chimed in saying that the oil that this person was going to contribute wasn’t enough to make a bucket of salad.

Then one of the half-drunk cederistas (a CDR member) hollered out saying that she had little kids and couldn’t give even a packet of spaghetti.  She added that there were too many difficulties and shortages for people to be giving away food for a block party.

After several minutes of discussion, no one came to an agreement.

The district delegate emphasized that what was important for the revolution was that everyone come to an agreement to provide a dish of food.  But many people commented that one plate per person was not enough, because there were a lot of people on the block and not all of them were there at the meeting, which was another way of saying that most of them won’t contribute anything though they would show up to eat and drink.

Suddenly everything turned into one big comedy show for me, one that would have been perfect on any TV.

This brought me back memories of some of the many meetings that I’ve attended, especially the time when arguments broke out over two television sets that the CDR had received and was supposed to give to those households that needed them most (though these weren’t “given” for free, because the families had to pay for them in installments, which weren’t cheap).

Many people in Cuba still don’t have a color TV, and among them you’ll find me.  This is why several people asked to be considered, though I remember the meeting ended in a mass revolt, with even the delegate receiving a few punches from some indignant cederistas.

So, in the end we had nothing this past September 28.  For many people it went by unnoticed.  On my block people refused to come to an agreement, they prefer to keep the little they have for themselves.