Cuba’s Youth in the Post Fidel Era

Photo: Raquel Perez Diaz

By Fernando Ravsberg

HAVANA TIMES — Fidel Castro’s death highlights the need for a generational transfer in the nation. It is already more or less defined what will happen in the political and economic superstructure in the coming two years, with First Vice President Miguel Díaz Canel leading a government team of his generation.

Raul Castro will step down as president in 2018, but may remain as First Secretary of the Communist Party. Thus, for the first time, the two centers of power, the Government and the Party would not be in the hands of the same person, which implies a healthy separation of powers.

General Castro has consolidated his government and the generational transfer, one of the more complex tasks that he faced when taking the reins. A team of people between the ages of 50 and 60 is already leading the country and preparing to continue the reform process after 2018.

However, the issue is not merely a thing of the superstructure. Many young people feel that the country does not belong to them, that the rules of the game have been set by others and that they only have to accept them or continue to increase the emigration statistics.

Young people navigate a virtual world, a mystery that arouses suspicions between their parents and grandparents. Photo: Raquel Perez
Young people navigate a virtual world, a mystery that arouses suspicions between their parents and grandparents. Photo: Raquel Perez

“I’m tired; I cannot take it anymore that they open fire constantly because I write in one or two international websites. I am a revolutionary and a Fidelista, but they attack me constantly. I’m sick of the suspicions, so I’m going to do a postgraduate abroad. ”

A young Cuban communicator told me this a couple of weeks ago while we were talking about the situation of the country. Surely he will leave as others have gone and the paradox is that they do not leave Cuba for economic reasons or for political differences with the revolution.

In an earlier post I explained the case of a young and brilliant mathematician-cybernetic expert, who tried to combine his work on the island with another for an important foreign company. But they harassed him so much that in the end he ended up going to work in another country.

And when the young people do not leave we throw them out. The University of Havana has just dismissed two prestigious professors, economist Omar Everleny Perez and the jurist Julio Antonio Fernandez. Both suffer from a terrible evil, to think with their own mind and express their opinions in public.

The nation ages but that process is not only a product of the long life expectancy of the Cubans. It is also because many young people leave the island, including tens of thousands of women of childbearing age, affecting the fall of the birthrate.

The emigration of young people is leaving to Cuba people of working age and affecting the birth rate.
The emigration of young people is leaving Cuba short of people of working age and affecting the birthrate.  Photo: Raquel Perez

Cuba cannot stop emigration in the same way that no third-world country has achieved it. The temptation of the First World is enormous for the poor and much more for Cubans who are poor with an education, which opens doors more than the rest.

Cuban migration could, however, be greatly reduced if the demands of young people were heard; if society were more open to giving them space and, above all, if they themselves were able to demand their right to decide the future of the nation.

And this last point is key because accusing only the “old people” of the space that the young people do not have in Cuba would be unfair. A few days ago former Uruguayan president Pepe Mujica told a Cuban journalist that “Young people are never given the baton. They have always had to elbow their way of their own efforts. ”

For the elderly Tupamaro guerrilla “young people are not to be pitied that need to be provided,” to the contrary, “the duty of youth is to fight for change. Changes that are generational, but also of struggle and a path. ”

“They have to have a defiant attitude and learn that nobody is going to give them anything; they are the product of a time that is not better or worse, but different. And above all they should not make the mistakes we made, but the mistakes of their own time,” said Mujica.

It would be healthy for the nation that the slogan, “I am Fidel,” be taken to heart, until the young people feel they have the right and the duty to take part in the designing of the future Cuban society, although in order to achieve it they have to break through with their elbows.

Photo: Raquel Pérez Díaz
Photo: Raquel Pérez Díaz

4 thoughts on “Cuba’s Youth in the Post Fidel Era

  • I personally prefer to add a combination of fine balsamic vinegar and a dash of Canadian maple syrup to the virgin olive oil. That provides an excellent accompaniment to good beef. But unfortunately the three constituents I mention and beef, are unavailable to Cubans. As a very great American said:
    “Let freedom reign.”

  • Such good advise from Mujica. Youth must make it’s own way in the world. Nothing is sweeter than being able to make ones own mistakes, to live ones own life.

  • What a pity those now in power do not have the imagination and audacity once so characteristic of Fidel and the “Generation of ’59” (even though some of that generation are now so rigid and dogmatic)! It is time to, as Chairman Mao once said, “let a hundred flowers bloom, a thousand schools of thought contend.” (Unfortunately, those in China who, back in the late 1950’s, did reveal that they had been cultivating these new flowers, or founding these new schools, soon found themselves crushed and their academies closed down!) Never mind. A generation later they were able to become entrepreneurs who founded China’s economic miracle.) It is a tragedy that your young friend feels that his only option is to emigrate, or that, if he stays, it will kill his soul. More than ever, Cuba needs folks like him, young people who will reinvigorate society and, “revolutionize”–the Revolution!

  • Its interesting how Fernando Ravsberg tip-toed along the discretionary line between criticism of the regime and adhering to that which is acceptable to the regime.
    He could have summarized by saying that the young people of Cuba gradually becoming aware of the outside world and the opportunities it offers, are increasingly seeking opportunities which they realize cannot be offered under a communist dictatorship.
    Fernando correctly observes that the constant constriction which is inherent in the communist system is steadily eroding the faith which has been indoctrinated in the young people by the educational system, the controlled communist media and the never-ending promotion of the cult of the personality as applied to Fidel, Raul and the long deceased Che Guevara (dead for over fifty years). The system is becoming more and more out-dated and under it change is impossible.

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