Politics in Cuba: Unnecessary or Essential?

In the background. Photo: Osmel Betancourt.


After so many years teaching at a university, I have never heard a single Cuban youth say out loud that politics is their vocation.


By Julio Antonio Fernandez Estrada  (El Toque)

HAVANA TIMES – The Cuban Revolution never managed (or maybe it never set out to) to have an unprejudiced idea about politics, which would allow young people to talk about it with the same humor, relaxation and energy that they have when they talk about the latest music video or the latest mobile phone and its apps.

Our young people aren’t any different from young people anywhere else in the world, they don’t care about politics, or expect anything from it or trust its results or believe in their leaders.

In Cuba, where one of the most radical social revolutions in the 20th century took place, there isn’t a civil society that has been earned because of politics because the experience we have had has taught us that politics is one-dimensional, rigid, inflexible and monotonous.

The new men and women in Cuba are just like new men and women in much of the world, which means they don’t expect anything from politics and are convinced that it goes hand-in-hand with corruption and a lack of transparency about significant decisions that affect the population.

After so many years teaching at a university, I have never heard a single Cuban youth say out loud that politics is their vocation. On the contrary, young people who are interested in politics know that the only way to get anywhere near this field is to align themselves with the Communist Party’s official politics, which is confused with government policy. 

A culture of hushed politics causes irreparable damage to society because we teach each other that the best way to lead a peaceful life is to be quiet, disciplined, not thinking rationally, repeating slogans, common places, mumbo-jumbo, and the unlimited and magic adoration of an unrivalled leader.

The politics we learn properly is one of authorizations. We, the loud-mouthed and reveling people, don’t know or dare to do anything for our community, for our neighborhood, working together, without first asking for the right authorization, without having gone through the filters, without meeting with the key people, who are just representatives of a single party, single union, a single administration.

We, the sharp and lively people who take pride in no one telling us a lie without being discovered, who is only cheating and tricking themselves, have accepted that politics takes place behind our backs because no one is as trustworthy as the heroes of the Revolution.

However, times have changed, there are different rules to the game now, the country’s destiny is in new hands. There are no more guerrilla fighters, or assailants, or militiamen. Now, we are all citizens and the achievements that the new people in power tell us about aren’t enough for us to be satisfied.

Politics can save us now, it’s time for us to discuss issues right now, although it should have always been that time.

But, how can you get somebody interested in politics if they have already convinced themselves that this is dangerous territory?

“Struggling” is allowed, illegal businesses are an opportunity for families to leave their crisis behind; emigrating outside the country by any means is an alternative that everyone keeps up their sleeve, however getting involved in politics here isn’t considered an option.

Cuban politics has already been set in stone and its’s boring to live somewhere where everything is set in stone. The main decisions have already been made, the worst enemies have already been defeated, the most harmful customs have already been changed, the most efficient institutions have already been created, every development strategy has already been conceived.

Young people have nothing left to do but move along as part of the troupe which they haven’t contributed to in any way, not the music, not the choreography… because nobody can escape this closed understanding of politics.

Now, the socialist dream is in the hands of generations of inexperienced, numb, unconditional citizens, without audacity, without anything to discuss, without any training in participating in a dialogue, controversy, criticism, who think every issue is the same because they are resolved or indisputable.

The world is in turmoil, politics are all over the news, parliaments writhe with discussions, where they are dealing with extremely important issues. Our TV broadcasts some fragments of these sessions but here in Cuba we don’t discuss anything, we don’t get tense, nothing explodes because we like calm and peace of mind and politics are too flighty.

However, politics is what will save the homeland otherwise it will be lost, it’s what can save decency otherwise it will be lost, it’s where we can raise our voices or remain quiet forever.

2 thoughts on “Politics in Cuba: Unnecessary or Essential?

  • RESULT !

    If as a Cuban one seeks a quiet life, adhere to the Communist Golden Rule !

    “Don’t challenge the system, accept it, stay mute and exist.”

  • Until the Castros and their “historic generation” loosen their grip on the daily lives of Cubans, “politics” as usual will continue. Cubans are too busy worrying about eating every day to expend the effort necessary to talk politics. Besides, as long as it remains a criminal offense punishable by at least two years in jail for publicly criticizing Fidel or Raul, few Cubans will be willing to take the risk.

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