I read this week of a speech just delivered by Raúl Castro that decried the poor state of civility in Cuba. He railed against public drunkenness and the raising of pigs in cities. He decried the dilapidated condition of buildings and streets. After reading his litany I wondered, what did the man expect after 54 years of Communism? Nirvana?
Rebeca Monzo, writing from Havana in a blog, translated at http://translatingcuba.com/loss-of-ethical-values-rebeca-monzo/, provides her reaction to the same speech:
Posted on July 11, 2013
“We have painfully perceived, for more than 20 years of the Special Period, the increasing deterioration of moral and civic values like honesty, decency, shame, decorum, honor and sensitivity to the problems of others.”
So reads one of the paragraphs of Raul Castro’s discourse before the Cuban parliament, published today, Tuesday, July 9 in the daily Rebel Youth.
I ask myself, why did he have to wait more than 20 years to put the brakes on a situation that was already noticeable and perceived to be worsening?
At this point the social indiscipline and human deterioration is almost uncontrollable. There are many factors that have influenced it, and they were known by all. The fragmentation of the Cuban family, product of the political confrontations and political estrangement among their members, many times imposed by the regime itself, is perhaps the crux of all the subsequent social misfortune. The family was always considered and in fact is the fundamental social nucleus of a nation.
The misconduct of the marginalized, like screaming loudly in the middle of the street, the use of obscene words and the vulgarity of speech, have been present in our daily lives. Television, one of the most influential of the mass media, also has contributed to exposing all kinds of vulgarities and mediocrities, in terms of image and vocabulary.
Throwing trash in public roadways, as well as indulging physiological needs in streets and parks, is something now of daily routine and are acts that are carried out before the indolence and apathy of observers, maybe for fear of being verbally or physically assaulted by the actor himself if attention is called. Walk in the morning through the old Asturian Center, now a museum, and you will be horrified to have to move away from the doorways by the strong odor of urine that these emanate.
With respect to the increased consumption of alcoholic beverages by the populace, their indiscriminate sale in almost all the state establishments from early hours is noteworthy, being that the only one responsible is the State itself. It is a shame to see in any state business, very neglected and rundown, a little table dragged to the middle of the sidewalk for the sale of rum, so that the pedestrian does not have to bother entering the place in question to drink.
As far as the abuse of the school uniform, generally the teachers themselves have given the bad example, dressing inadequately to stand in front of a student body and make themselves respected teaching a class. All of this of course has been a product of the bad training of many teachers, the prolonged shortage of clothes for sale, the low salaries and the transportation difficulties, which has brought about having to use a kind of clothing that does not impede climbing into a truck or hanging from the platform of a bus.
Nevertheless, barely hours after publishing the discourse in question, a friend of ours was an eyewitness to an event in the farmer’s market at 17th and K streets, in Vedado, when a young man came running and tripped and almost fell on an elderly woman, who sells plastic bags at the exit of said establishment.
She, feeling battered, uttered one of the most gross curses, “now so in fashion,” which begins with “P.” Then out of nowhere came another man, also young, dressed in plainclothes, who immediately asked for the woman’s identity card, in order to impose a fine of 200 pesos, not for selling bags (which is considered a crime), but for the “curse.”
The woman began to cry living tears, explaining that she was retired and hypertensive, that she had no money, etc. When the young man in plainclothes saw that those present began to encircle them, he told the vendor that “this time he was going to pardon the fine,” but instead he was going to “draw up” a warning. This made the woman burst into tears again, before the astonished gaze of all those present, who daily often utter these curse words and others even stronger, before the indifference of everyone.
Translated by mlk
9 July 2013