The dynamics of modern life offer lots of reasons to reject stagnation in human activity. Because of that historically Cubans emigrate en masse to wherever there are more lively sociopolitical and economic rhythms, although afterwards we complain about the fast pace of life and “how hard you have to work” in other countries. Those who go away email us about the compensations, or they tell us about it with their own voice when they come to visit a relative who has remained penniless in this country. Many of our countrymen say that when they come to Cuba they have the impression that they are flying back in time to an earlier age. “Nothing seems to move forward here”, they say and comment that “whatever they do is so slow that you can’t notice it.” They add that where they have come from everything goes forward quickly and efficiently. Some foreigners are more diplomatic and prefer not to comment about our way of getting along by way of cars pulled by mental horses in the age of nanotechnology.
An ancient lyric of the disappeared musician and composer Ignacio Piñeiro, went “slowly is more enjoyable”. Of course he was using a crafty double reference to Cuban dance music, because in many other respects – before as well as now – this statement is counterproductive. For example: imagine you are waiting to go into an establishment which prices things in dollars and that the cashier keeps the queue waiting while he or she is counting money. Why are they always doing that in shops in Havana? At different times of day and in different towns they do the same thing: as an indication of contempt they delay all the customers who are keen to buy things and leave. Why do they have to do all this counting? Why can’t they do it at the end of the day? Some suspicious people in the line in a shop the other day commented that they do it to keep on top of things and take money out to make sure they have no surplus in the event of a surprise audit.
I would like to share with my readers and visitors my view that we live “conveniently” slowly at the pace which suits a government interested in its own permanence. It’s always been like that, and the previous president, to aid his personal war against the United States, favoured an irrational obstinacy which ruined Cuba and which today is moving closer to the future annexation which he was supposedly trying to prevent. The change in mentality which they talk about now, in the form of the latest and most manipulative slogan, is just like the education which is provided free at the price of eternal submission, in order to justify what is unjust and badly done. We shouldn’t show impatience because we are made to wait, if this long oppressive line, after outrages and repeated screw-ups, now looks as if it is beginning to move forward. We’ve only had to wait 54 years.
Translated by GH
26 March 2013