06 December 2007

The Youth Factor

We have seen an example of the profound power and influence that a youth / student movement can have on a society in the Venezuelan constitutional reform referendum vote.

Can something similar happen in Cuba?

In Cuba, the young people that are currently in their late teens and early twenties represent the generation that grew up during what Fidel Castro’s regime euphemistically called the “special period”. They are a generation which has known more sacrifice, want and waiting than perhaps any other generation since Castro came to power nearly 50 years ago-and that’s saying a lot.

Their coming of age has also coincided with the advent of the digital age and of affordable personal communication and entertainment devices such as the PC, the internet, cell phones, video games, etc. that make being a young person in today’s world incredibly exciting.

Of course, knowing that all these marvels exist out there but are denied to you because your government is hell-bent on saving you from the evils of wanton consumerism, must be pure torture. It must also be torture to live in the only country in your entire hemisphere where you are not legally allowed to freely express yourself in an age where technology has made it the norm for youths to do so.

It must seem as if there’s a world-wide conspiracy to keep you stuck in a 50’s time capsule. Like a tropical zoo or museum. Like a live archeological exhibit or a social experiment. The living, breathing primitive inhabitants of the land that Walmart and McDonald’s forgot; the last iceberg of the cold war-still floating around in the Caribbean.

The regime knows that it cannot survive if it cannot convince Cuba’s youth to continue sacrificing – not for what they want, but for what their parents-the first generation of the revolution-sacrificed for. (in vain).

Cuba’s youth is beginning to show signs of rebellion. A nascent student movement is beginning to spread, possibly spurned by the lack of promised changes that the new Cuban leader has been promising for the last 16 months. Youth isn't patient.

Both the “wristband revolution” , (“cambio” bracelet march) and the recent university autonomy movement lead by Universitarios sin Frontreras are examples that Cuban youth is ready for change and willing to sacrifice for their future not to keep Castro, Inc. in perpetual power.

Youths are fearless and formidable adversaries as Hugo Chavez found out on Dec. 2. The regime knows this too nd other than more reprassion and sacrifice, it really has no answers for the angst of the young people in Cuba.

If and when the young people in Cuba realize the power in their numbers, all bets are off.


Tomás Estrada-Palma said...

The fact is they were born into an age when everything worth stealing in Cuba had already been stolen and used up leaving them with nothing but empty promises and rhetoric. Communism - still less filling and no taste!!!!

Anonymous said...

Communism sucks, but so does Wal-mart and Mcdonalds. Why would you want an American corporation in Cuba, sucking out the profit toward US and only leaving Cubans with low wage shit jobs and stores as tastless and uglier than most I've seen in Cuba.

You should wish that Cubans are free to create their OWN version of wal-mart and their OWN version of McDonalds.

When the shackles of fidel are lifted, we almost must fight to keep the Cuban people free of the shackles that will go with being a peripheral economy in the world capitalist economy.

Down with fidel (down with ugly wal-marts and digusting McDonalds too!).