Schools filled with men… and prisons? / Reyner Aguero

By Reyner Aguero

Due to recent experiences I have chosen to address an core issue critical to the future of our country. I mean the few opportunities for young people, often under 20, to succeed as workers in our society; and in addition the way, not at all educational, that they are judged when they go before a court of law.

Have you ever wondered how many people in Cuba led a life of crime, such as prostitution, pimping, diversion of funds, theft, racketeering, etc. … who on leaving the country continue to commit the same offenses? Or why Cuba has a such a high rate of its population behind bars and in prisons? If they did, no doubt you can find the answer yourself. Justice and the social system in other parts of the world operate in ways that encourage their citizens to opt for a sustainable and prosperous life without committing violations of law that may lead to a prison.

In Cuba, youth live a paradox partly responsible for the increase in crime. Of 13 million Cubans, 2 million live outside the country, which means their families in Cuban can survive and lead a relatively normal life, without complications. But for the rest, going to a nightclub or a cabaret could cost them the fruit of their labor for a whole month, that is they can’t enjoy these things without balancing the scales by the illegal means mentioned. Because an element that characterizes Cubans, given the economic differences, is to appeal to whatever resource to keep our pride intact.

Thefts from the State are the most frequent crimes. “What belongs to everyone, belongs to no one.” It is an axiom within most of the Cuban population. Therefore such actions aren’t that embarrassing to people. Event National TV has shown shorts confirming the veracity of such arguments: “In many minds stealing from the State is not stealing, it’s fighting.”

In other cases leaving the country by different routes, whether temporarily or definitively, is the greatest hope of every young Cuban. Prostitution and pimping are the choices made by a considerable number, to which you can add those who have not played those roles, who would be willing in certain circumstances to do so as a way to escape the dismal status quo and thus gain opportunities elsewhere in the world.

For the most part the youngest can’t rely on an education policy that will motivate them to contribute to society, with either detention in a work camp or another alternative outside the bars; rather than educate them, we corrupt them in every way.

The solution in many cases is not to repress us or deprive us of our most precious rights. There are plenty of alternatives that can educate our youth preventatively. If there’s anything I’ve learned in my young life is that you win more with intelligence, than with bureaucracy.

24 August 2013