Cuba to See Massive Parades on May Day

by Osmel Ramirez Alvarez

Long Live International Workers Day. Photo from 1996 by Bill Hackwell

HAVANA TIMES — This May 1, International Workers Day, will be no different than past ones. Millions of Cubans will parade to squares in the different provinces and municipalities of the island. The best known and most emblematic is the “Jose Marti” (Plaza of the Revolution) in Havana.

Many wonder why our people are not rebelling and take this opportunity to ridicule the government. Empty plazas would be an important message and help put pressure on the system, which after such a conservative Party Congress looks strong and durable. It  would be a dream! But the reality is very different.

The promoters of change are not those who have the strings in their hands, but the government. A people alone do not make such determinations. Spontaneity is very rare in social movements and when it appears, beware, because there can be a hidden leadership behind it.

Our civil society is a long way from having convening power. Much realistic study of our people and their expectations, and a lot of intelligence, is still needed to reach that point. Too much passion exists among those Cubans who have fallen away from the revolution and who have embraced traditional democratic ideals as a logical alternative. We all know that passion can blind and lead to unwise decisions.

Passion as an excited state, normally passes quickly; but in the case of Cuba and Cubans it is different: as the cause persists (the totalitarian regime), and makes any solution to the problem very difficult.

Our problem is that the revolution does not and will not resolve our needs as a nation and we must transform the country into a viable democracy. That brings to mind several questions: Who are we? What’s the plan? How do we know what is best for us? What guarantees do we have that we won’t be cheated again? These are natural questions and fears, whose answers must be answered in establishing the leadership of new political actors.

We must be realistic: our people are going on 57 years living the same reality and are not accustomed to change. Even though the information revolution allows some to listen to different messages, still 90% of what most people hear comes from the government. With such a dose of manipulation it is impossible to ask for the exception to the rule, without the need for capable leaders.

If Marxism was right on anything it was the assertion that “man thinks as he lives and doesn’t live as he thinks.” The Cuban diaspora lived in Cuba and know our sad reality, because they suffered it, or they realized it after getting out and discovering the real world. But after a while all that was new becomes normal for them and gradually the essence of the Cuban reality is forgotten. From their new point of reference, they severely judge our people, which is caged and shackled, victim of social control. It is not a criticism in itself, it is the description of a situation that is occurring and merits a profound and constructive analysis.

But those who still live here receive daily, by all possible means, thousands of political messages aligned with the government, projecting capitalism and “bourgeois” democracy in apocalyptic fashion. The messages are aimed to denounce an imperialist plot that threatens our independence, while at the same time we suffer the consequences of social control.

The vast majority of people are trapped because if you do not work for the state, you depend on the state so they don’t close your little business. Those of us who live this situation know why, despite everything, on May 1 the squares around the country will be filled.

It is foolish to believe that such participation means that the majority of us are with the system. Likewise it is foolish to believe that those who obey the order to participate actually believe in it. It will also be foolish to believe that the massive parades signify approval of the results of the recent conservative and failed Party Congress. Writing us off as hypocritically for participating in the parade will show an inability to correctly interpret us.

Our people will march in mass on May Day and will do so until the day when regime change occurs. On the day following such an event, they will voluntarily be out in the streets to celebrate the opposite and give cheers to freedom. That’s how things work and it is the duty of those who fight for a better Cuba to understand this well. For now, from our position as a visionary vanguard, we have no choice but to say, Long live Mayday!, and Down with hypocrisy!

One thought on “Cuba to See Massive Parades on May Day

  • The public ‘celebrations’ in Cuba are a consequence of the same principles as those which control the so-called ‘elections’. Record is maintained of who attended and who didn’t. I know of Cubans who attend to vote at elections but leave their paper blank. But having attended they are recorded as having voted and there is no record of blank voting papers. Similarly the ‘workers’ are highly organized for May Day and organization starts two weeks earlier. The same applies to the walk along St Lazaro in Havana in January ‘led’ by Raul Castro which ended at a Jose Marti memorial where Raul laid a wreath. The lit candles were supplied to the students and the final thirty or so each got a Cuban flag to carry. This was then widely broadcast on four of the Cuban TV channels as an example of Raul’s leadership and he wore uniform with the rows of medals. TV played this alternately with Raul in a sports jacket and flannel trousers meeting with the President of France. He has of recent times adopted the ‘statesman’ image wearing tailored suits and silk ties. Photographs of him in the latter have been replacing the ones of him in military uniform in public offices and buildings.

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