If It’s Good Enough for the USA, It’s Good Enough for Cuba

Yusimi Rodriguez

Safe. Photo:Elio Alejandro Ramos Castillo

HAVANA TIMES — I can’t help but to become alarmed when people use the argument that something is correct in Cuba because the same thing happens in the United States.

As an example of this, I can point to when people say that it’s okay for a certain student, Kabir Vega, to be excluded from his classes for refusing to cut his hair because in the United States there also exist dress codes in schools and students must abide by them.

Two years ago, when Havana Times published the article “No False Promises in Cuba’s Elections,” criticizing the fact that Cubans don’t elect the president of our country, someone posted a comment saying that in the United States people don’t directly elect their president either.

When we criticize the lack of freedom of Cubans to travel abroad (a right that has been partially restored), someone will counter with the complaint that American citizens can’t travel freely to Cuba.

What conclusion should I draw? If something occurs in the United States, without the citizens there complaining (or despite their complaints) then it is fine for the rest of the world? If rights are violated in the United States then it’s okay to violate them here? If there’s no real democracy in the United States of America then we shouldn’t aspire to achieve them in Cuba?

Perhaps, there are logical arguments for forcing Kabir Vega to get a haircut, but as the situation now stands, neither he nor his parents have heard any. It’s good to remember that Kabir Vega doesn’t study in a military school, though sometimes I feel like my country is a big army and I’m just a soldier.

Why should the aesthetic codes of a military school govern a public school? Why wear uniforms, which are supposed to prevent inequalities between students and to make it easier on parents when it comes to buying clothes for their children to attend school. Must we end up destroying every vestige of individuality among pupils?

The worst is that the uniforms don’t serve to hide the social differences that exist between Cuban students. Not everyone can carry cellphones and Ipods to school, not all students have computers in their homes. And if there were a ban on carrying cellphones and iPods to school, it would still suffice to look at students’ shoes and backpacks.

If life has shown that we’re not equal (despite the claims of the leaders at the beginning of the revolution), if not everyone can buy and maintain a cellphone; if not everyone can wear Adidas, Reebok or Fila tennis shoes to school, why should everyone wear their hair short?

When I say everyone, I mean males, since females can choose. In my last year of high school I cut off all of my hair. Though I did have the problem of being looked at like some kind of freak most of the time, no one accused me of violating the school’s rules; nobody threatened to expel me from school. So why can’t Kabir wear his hair long?

Kabir Vega and his parents still haven’t received a logical answer to this question, although we know it’s not a question of logic but one of which side power is on. Only those with power can get away with saying something as stupid as “aesthetics is more important than dignity.”

I think that getting a logical response from teachers and education officials will be almost impossible. Teachers in our country, even those with a high level of professional training, are like government reporters or “stenographers of the powerful” (that’s how one journalist I met a few years ago defined his work).

If some reader sends in a comment with the argument that in schools in the United States have regulations in schools that require males to wear their hair short and that these rules are obeyed, that doesn’t mean that our educational administrators must resort to the same reasoning. Wouldn’t that be a contradiction in our anti-imperialist country, where we criticize American society so much?


5 thoughts on “If It’s Good Enough for the USA, It’s Good Enough for Cuba

  • Actually, I agree with Moses. There is always something to admire. I moved to Mexico to have more free time, now I miss work, but I’m scared to move back to the US, because a 65 hour work week has become so foreign to me that I’m not sure if I could still do it. Yet, somehow I found the only job in Mexico that allows me to work as many hours as I want.

    Also, I have paid hundreds of dollars for a box of Cuban hand rolled cigars on numerous occasions.

    Lastly, we US citizens say the same thing about China. I think that is more human than Cuban.

  • It’s not like that, Yusimi. The thing is that some people complain about problems in Cuba as if it was the ONLY PLACE on the surface of the Earth where shit happens. It’s not that people say it’s wrong for you to complain about it. They offer only a different perspective, especially if the big deal here is ‘a tempest over a glass of water’ like a stupid dress code. Say it as it is – a stupid dress code, not a famine or a plague.

  • And the prize for the most agglomerate bunch of unrelated material in a reply goes to… Moses! Congratulations!

  • For years wine lovers continued to prefer French wines over California wines even though California vintners were winnning tastings after tastings. Italian clothes always costs more but are typically less well-made. The Germans continue to sell high-priced cars even though Japanese cars hold their value much better. And so on. We always see the grass as greener on the other side. In Cuba, the situation is worsened because in most cases it is true with regards to the US. One out of 5 Cubans have at least one member of their family living abroad. The large majority of those Cubans who live abroad are economically better off and support family in Cuba. It is no surprise nor should it be that there is a ¨worship¨of all things American under these circumstances. It is not all one direction either: Cuban cigars continue to be the gold-standard among aficionados despite mediocre status in blind smoking contests. Such is life.

  • Yusimi,

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