By Vicente Antonio de Castro
HAVANA TIMES – When vocation or love are superimposed by an obligation and external control, there is a shift in a person’s motivation. The thing we used to do because it was our vocation or passion and we did it well and happily, ends up becoming an obligation, something we do poorly and unhappily.
Looking after the elderly, poorly and unhappily, will soon be the consequence of converting the natural care of our elders into a legal obligation. This atrocity appears in the new Constitution.
The constitution, currently under public discussion, delimits this in the same article as (1) the compulsory care parents have to give their children, who they give life to and are limited in terms of responsibility because they are minors, with an assumed obligation to look after their elders as part of the general concept of “family”.
How did we get here?
Cuban society is moving forward without a compass, without dialogue, unaware of itself. Its human and civic values have been diluted into ideology. An elite with unlimited arrogance took the entire nation’s free will into their hands during a time of collective frenzy and they never gave it back. Quite the opposite in fact, they have prevented the population from recovering their free will and autonomy.
Authoritarian laws have been the main means they employed to dismantle society. The only leader claimed he had the solution to all our problems. Farming (which wasn’t a problem), industry (which wasn’t a problem either), education, culture, solidarity and even love.
He wiped out any organization that didn’t answer to the top-down and mechanical hierarchy he had designed. These were replaced by substitute bodies which keep their name and hold onto the space that would be Civil Society, but they are just an extension of the totalitarian State. Instead of representing the people’s interests before the State, unions, labor and student organizations, represent the State against workers and students, by infiltrating their groups, controlling and informing on them.
One of the results has been the demonization of private enterprise for decades, not only commercial businesses, but any private business. The State transformed citizens into a shapeless mass whose potential and inventiveness were drowned in ideology, bureaucracy and repression.
Why do they want to include this Article? What’s in it for them?
Replacing the absolute power of Fidel, and later Raul, with a Party/military bureaucracy implies a change of focus. They held onto the reins of power because of their personal influence, no matter how bad they were to us Cubans. Our current leaders need a more modern and functional State.
This is why they are getting rid of the part of the State that is most burdensome and unloading back onto citizens, but without revoking the laws that prevent these same citizens from generating wealth so they can take on this load themselves. Much less giving room for the social dynamics that only flourish in freedom.
How are they doing this?
They are using the latest excuse: “the Cuban people have become too used to the State resolving everything for them, including caring for the elderly.”
They couldn’t be more cynical if they tried. The same State which has really limited private enterprise psychologically and morally, is now complaining that the Cuban people “got used to them”.
The saddest thing about all of these lies is that the State doesn’t even care for the elderly. State-run Care Homes for the Elderly are few and far between, they are absolutely awful and lack even the basic conditions to be able to justify the use of the verb “care”. Elderly people suffer absolute misery in these dreadful places and languish in depressing material and moral filth.
No decent human being would send an old person there, if it was their parent or otherwise. Many of the people who send their elders there do so because they have no other choice. And it’s the very Government itself that is responsible for these people not having a choice, the same Government that is now blaming them.
Who is responsible for the overwhelming failure that has made Cuba the greatest economic regression in the 20th century? Pensions of only $8 or 9 USD per month, mass emigration of its youth, 3 or 4 generations crammed into living in a run-down house or apartment. Whose fault is it?
Relating to the subject at hand, about the care of our elderly, we have to take a close look at what has happened over the past 60 years for this to become legislation. What has happened to the population who apparently don’t look after their elders and need to be forced to do so?
1 – ARTICLE 70. Parents have the obligation to feed their children, to help them defend their legitimate interests and to help them fulfill their just wishes, as well as actively contribute to their education and comprehensively train them up as citizens with moral, ethical and civic values, corresponding to life in our socialist society. Meanwhile, children are obligated to respect and care for their parents.
ARTICLE 73. The State, society and families have the obligation to protect and care for the elderly as far as this responsibility corresponds to them and to promote their social integration.