HAVANA TIMES, October 25 — On Friday I took my niece to school, where everyone was set to go on their first camping trips as “Pioneer Explorers.” Like with all Pioneer activities, this began with the singing of the national anthem by students and teachers alike.
And like with almost all Pioneer activities, the children proceeded to chant revolutionary slogans, with each scout troop rattling off a different one – energetically and with emotion. And as if that weren’t enough of a show of energy and emotion, the principal or a teacher would instruct them to repeat their rallying cries.
Seeing my niece and her classmate’s thrill and excitement over the camping trip, it was easy for me to return to my childhood days with a sense of nostalgia.
I too had gotten dressed in my blue pants, a sweater and a hat that made me feel like a true explorer. I too had my little friends and buddies with whom I shared the excitement of the unknown. I too chanted slogans – in fact the very same ones.
That was something I found amazing. Years have passed and fashions have change, but not the slogans. The situation in the country had changed: first there was the process of the “rectification of errors” in the eighties, after was the fall of the socialist camp and the subsequent “Special Period” during the nineties.
Now with our system being “updated,” they tell us that our socialist model will eliminate the mistakes of the past (which apparently survived the process of the rectification of errors.).
Errors we were always warned about by the eternal leader of the Cuban Revolution, according to fragments of his old speeches published over the past several months by Granma newspaper.
And today small private businesses are no longer vestiges of the bourgeoisie but the possible salvation of the economy. Yet we keep repeating the same slogans.
Pioneers between six and eleven years of age don’t yet know too much about who Ernesto “Che” Guevara was, but they all clearly “want to be like him.” At that age they’ve barely experienced life; they don’t know the history of the country, let alone that of the world.
Their parents are still the ones who decide what clothes and shoes they’ll wear; they don’t understand what socialism or capitalism is, but they shout out loud that they’re willing to defend our system with their lives if necessary; and they will dance “like good communists,” according to one of the pioneers slogans, though they haven’t a glue about what communism is.
The highlight of my nostalgia came with the slogan “If you want to ride a donkey, in the US there’s a donkey president.” I wanted to scream, “I chanted that same slogan on this same playground” (though I won’t say how many years ago that was).
The important thing is that the occupant of the White House has changed several times through presidential elections since the first time I shouted that slogan, but it remains there, unwavering.
The US president is an ass, though most Pioneers don’t know his name. It’s not that I identify with Mr. Obama; I actually think a real donkey would be more deserving of the Nobel Peace Prize.
I wonder if they really were Pioneers, the creators of these slogans that have stayed on the hit parade over all these years.
What remained clear to me on Friday is that the generation that succeeded us has taken up the torch. Perhaps many things will change, and plenty more to come, but there will always be slogans to shout, and of course there will always be those who shout them.