At Half Mast / Reinaldo Escobar

As is traditional, on the first Monday in September class have started at all the educational institutions in Cuba. Among the peculiarities of this school year, a significant decline in pre-university enrollment stands out, along with an increase in the centers that train technicians and skilled workers, those who, as Raul has said, “have their feet in the earth.” It is a farewell to Fidel’s pretensions to convert the Island into a land of scientists, an Island where work in a factory or cultivating the land came to be seen as a punishment, as evidence of being a moron or someone who didn’t know how to take advantage of the opportunities provided by the Revolution.

This year the celebration has been toned down by the declaration of official mourning for the death of General Julio Casas Regueiro, Minister of the Armed Forces, Vice President of the Council of State, and a member of the Communist Party Politburo. So the flags remained at half mast at all public institutions and in the schools they had to make an effort to try to limit the natural enthusiasm with which teenagers met again after two months of vacation.

But there is no bureaucratic disposition capable of limiting the exuberant explosion of juvenile hormones. Three years after having been named the most important minister of the country, another member of the gerontocracy has left the game. I don’t know if Raul Castro will continue to think that there is no relief bench to replace the historic generation.These kids who laugh and enjoy themselves don’t know, nor do they care. Early in the morning, while noticing that their uniforms had suddenly become tighter, shorter and more faded, they could see that the sun was rising, as it does every day. They may not be aware of the amount of power they are denied, but in the times ahead, they will be.

5 September 2011