12 November 2006

Young Cynics

After Hurricane Wilma, I made the acquaintance of Raul, a young Cuban REFUGEE who had recently fled Cuba. He came around in a pickup truck about a week after the storm and asked if I needed any repairs. We were lucky to only have minimal roof damage, but I had a lot of loose capping tiles and hired Raul and his family to re–cement them in place.

Raul didn’t know crap about fixing roofs, but he had a friend who did and Raul got instructions over a cell phone on how to “resolver”. When my neighbors saw all the Cubans on top of my roof, they flocked over to hire them since there were no roofers to be had anywhere.

Which, like all things do, brings us to Cuba. Raul and his family would quit working at dusk and would sometimes come over for a beer and a chat. Raul, a typical Cuban youth, was a fountain of information about life in Cuba and I bombarded him with questions. Some things, I knew, some things came as a complete shock.

Some of the observations and conclusions I as able to glean from talking to Raul, have been confirmed by an AP article from The Houston Chronicle.

Those of us who were actually subjected to the Cuban educational system, will tell you that it’s merely an indoctrinational system. Emphasis is placed on education for no other reason that it is the most effective vehicle to indoctrinate the young.

They start indoctrinating you in pre school. Society is a big propaganda campaign. Imagine a country run by deranged Madison Ave. executives. Everything is a rhetorical slogan. The political rhetoric is all around you 24/7. After a while, you start to tune it out. You don’t care. You don’t want to hear it anymore, but you can’t change the dial.

I noticed this when I tried to talk to Raul about politics. I found it so odd that he didn’t care about politics, just the current situation of despair his family was suffering. To him, my patriotic zeal was much like the empty words, lies and propaganda that he had been force fed for twenty something years.

Here’s a quote from the article:

There is a profound disconnect between the world of this younger generation and the ideology they see in state media. After 47 years of rule by Castro, many youths say that they are tired of politics and that the official rhetoric doesn't match their reality.

They dream of less propaganda and more material comforts.

The regime, through its constant propaganda, has created a nation of young skeptics that aren’t buying anything that the Cuban government is selling. They know better.

Marxism, Cuban style, has, by nature, a materialistic value system, thus its emphasis on egalitarianism. In Cuba you’re equal, not because of God given rights, but because your material possessions are pretty much the same as everybody else’s. You measure the worth of a human by his possessions, by material things. Those with more stuff have more rights.

Many young Cubans certainly embrace the current system, actively participating in the Communist Youth Union and responding to efforts by the government to nurture a new generation of leaders.

But others resist the formula. Free speech limits are among their sore points. Restricted Internet access generally is available only through government centers and universities, and Cubans risk fines and confiscation of equipment if they wire up illegal satellite dishes to watch MTV or CNN.

"I feel blind and manipulated," said a 30-year-old who would identify himself only as Luis for fear of losing his job at a state-run art institute.

In a shrinking world, Cuban youth feel isolated and left behind. They know the wonders and promise of modern technology, but are denied the opportunity to expand their minds and nurture their dreams.

"I want more technology, to be somewhere that feels more advanced," said Tony, a 20-year-old music producer with long, gelled hair and a black leather bracelet with studs.

Like many young Cubans, he wouldn't reveal his last name, fearing retribution for speaking candidly. "I want to open my mind," he said.

The author of the Article, Vanessa Arrington, astutely states “Whether the handful of leaders filling in for the ailing 80-year-old Castro can surmount this apathy is among many questions facing Cuba. I’m not sure its apathy that the Cuban youth suffer from. I think I’d like to call it “Pragmatic Cynicism” It’s good to see some truth coming out of Cuba from the MSM. I intend to e-mail Ms Arrington and encourage her to keep up the good work.

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