14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 3 January 2017 — The images from the January 2nd parade and the march of the “combative people” provoked questions in many: Who are these Cubans who went to the Plaza of the Revolution? What characteristics define those who awoke at dawn, shouted slogans in front of the podium or marched diligently carrying a pro-government placard?
The official press defines them with positive adjectives – grateful, loyal, combative – and includes them in slogan of the day, which each of them repeated on Monday: “I am Fidel.” But it is also possible to draw the contours of their nature from what they are not, or at least what they should not be…
It is clear that in the wide esplanade, in the shadow of the Ministry of the Interior, missing were those who maintain political differences with the Government or those who did not have the desire to fake overwhelming revolutionary enthusiasm. Those who still had an end-of-year hangover and could not drag themselves out of bed so early are also on this list.
If we take at face value officialdom’s description of the faithful gathered there, nor should we concur that they include that “anti-social scourge who neither study nor work”
However, if we take at face value officialdom’s description of the faithful gathered there, nor should we concur that they included that “anti-social scourge who neither study nor work,” a group whose principle ideology is survival and who label “on the left” (as in “under the table”) everything that is done outside the law to survive the rigors of daily life.
It is assumed that those in the Plaza included none of the many who traffic in tractor and bus fuel, “diverted” from those uses. Nor even the negotiators in gas and oil “extracted” from electricity generation equipment, freight transport and state-owned vehicles, who resell the product to the drivers of private vehicles.
In that mass of inflamed people one assumes there were no faces of those who sell food or personal hygiene products “diverted” from kindergartens, hospitals, schools, workers’ cafeterias and even prisons and military units. Because “these kinds of people” had no place in a march called for the unimpeachable.
Under that logic, among the combative construction workers none of those who marched feed the black market with cement, sand, bricks, bathroom fixtures, cables, electrical outlets and all the other things extracted from state-owned works. Not to mention those who commit the crime of buying “diverted” resources to repair their homes.
Among the seniors, who represented those who worked on the literacy campaign, former militiamen or internationalist fighters, none should have been the elderly who buy newspapers from the state kiosks at 20 centavos and resell them for one peso. Nor would there have been any retirees who, at the doors of the markets, offer at retail prices cigarettes, plastic bags, coffee and spaghetti, taken from what they receive on the ration book, to round out their pensions.
Among the thousands of children and teenagers who waved flags, carried banners and chanted slogans there was no space for those who sell their bodies to tourists or who dream of leaving the country
The list of those who – under no circumstances – should have been part of the rally organized by the government on Monday could be extended ad infinitum. In those tight ranks there was no room for the unproductive, for negligent service workers, for those who manipulate weights in the markets, or for the administrators who fix the numbers before the auditors show up.
Among the thousands of children and teenagers who waved flags, carried banners and chanted slogans there was no space for those who sell their bodies to tourists or who dream of leaving the country, whether by crossing the Straits of Florida or crossing the jungles of Central America, not to mention through a loveless marriage to a foreigner.
Nor expected to show up would be those who buy the test for admission to higher education or falsify a medical certificate to escape military service.
And also missing should be those who star in that phenomenon the official media calls a “crisis of values” and exemplify it with the use of “symbols alien to our culture,” like celebrating Halloween, preferring soccer over baseball or wearing a T-shirt with the American flag on it.
If none of these types excluded from the official discourse, stigmatized by propaganda and condemned by the system, marched this Monday… who, then, filled the Plaza?