14ymedio, Elias Amor Bravo, Valencia, 28 September 2021 — The CDRs reach 61 years of age and carry the same problems as any organization that reaches that age. An article in the State newspaper Granma addresses it. The CDRs need young people, and above all, to be updated, to catch up. The old paradigm was left hollow, empty, and is not up to the standards of these times. Will they succeed?
The demographic change occurring in Cuba compromises the CDRs ability to stay afloat. It is logical. The original leaders of the blocks who joined Fidel’s initial call are no longer there. Their children are likely old. And here is the issue: their grandchildren or great-grandchildren, who are my age, are interested in other things. The youngest disregard organizations that lack a future, and that do not provide a relevant activity. It is the law of life.
Furthermore, young people are not interested in protecting a Revolution that has also become old, but rather, they desire change. On July 11th, they shouted “Freedom” and “No to communism” in the streets. Someone should take note of these proclamations, because they will come back even stronger. Young Cubans have made the leap and do not want to find themselves caught up in the same web as their parents or grandparents, in which the prize was a jabita – a little goodie bag with groceries or personal hygiene products. On the contrary, they dream of spaces open to freedom and progress, built on different foundations.
The young people compare themselves with members of the CDRs and find no common ground. They are different generations in which the so-called revolution’s demagogic pressure is continually shrinking thanks to social media, the internet, information and communication. Young Cubans have discovered the “big lie” much better than their grandparents or parents. That story of closing a country to external influences is over. Cuban communism struggles to preserve a space for propaganda. However, similar to other authoritarian regimes throughout history, little by little it is left with nothing to say.
It no longer inspires pride, it never did, to belong to a CDR. Nor does it offer any advantage, under the current political conditions on the island. Belonging to a CDR is to distance yourself from the community, to be forced to fulfill certain obligations, almost always problematic, and to live a life of ideological obedience that does not lead anywhere. Could any 25-year-old want that?
Hence, the leaders of the organization are wracking their brains to see how they attract young people to the CDRs. Because as the old guards retire, many of these repositories of information about accusations are closing forever, and they disappear as if they never existed. This ends up being much better, because thousands of Cubans have been harmed, in one way or another, by some activity carried out by a CDR in “defense of the revolution.”
Seeing them disappear, like any of the buildings in the center of cities that collapse due to inclement weather, might end up being the best ending. Young people do not want to be the successors of a poisoned inheritance, one which, most likely, in a democratic and free country, should be brought to justice for its misdeeds. Who would want that?
Interestingly, Granma says that “the CDRs offer a perfect trench for those who want to transform their community and their environment, and work towards solving the problems of the neighborhood”; empty words, thrown to the wind. Young Cubans, highly qualified and with a clear desire for solidarity, know that helping others has nothing to do with acting as the block’s CDR. Luckily, this is also over. The population pyramid has buried the CDRs.
If the non-renewal of the population by the base is problematic, it is more complex to not know what to do with the CDRs and, above all, which activity they should focus on in 2021
If the non-renewal of the population by the base is problematic, it is more complex to not know what to do with the CDRs and, above all, which activity they should focus on in 2021. The strategy.
Though this effort is pending, it seems the directors of the organization are not paying it the attention it deserves. To think that the CDRs should continue to “defend the revolution” is to force them to be against the vast majority of a society that has already sent its first, very clear messages about the urgency of the changes.
The facts. Putting the CDRs to care for the environment and animals, as the organization’s top leader, Hernández Nordelo, told Granma, is surprising to say the least. The vague and undefined announcement that the organization will take on new tasks, including inciting the population to keep watch from their communities as a way to preserve itself, is at best cryptic and complex to understand. What do they want to preserve with the CDRs, perhaps the buildings, or the streets, which we’re not allowed to be in right now?
It would be unfortunate if the CDRs end up chasing stray dogs or stopping the felling of trees. Of course, there are things that are better left unsaid so as not to end up being hilarious. For those who played a key role in the origins of the revolution it was a great social effort to destroy the life and property of citizens by preparing a report of alleged criminal activities, often false and based on rumors. In the movie The Lives of Others, the East German state security spy ends up delivering print ads to homes when communism disappears forever. It could be a good ending for the day after, luckily, it is forthcoming.
Hernández Nordelo, who enjoys this canonry at the head of the CDRs as a reward from the communist regime for his spy activities (he could have obtained director general position in some joint venture in the state with much better pay and privileges), said “We must ask ourselves which CDR do Cuba, the Revolution and the Cuban CDRs need, and continue working in that direction.”
Well, he should ask himself, and do it as soon as possible, because as has already been pointed out, in a matter of years, not many, the people he will have at his disposal will be an army of grandparents willing to play a game of dominoes, keep an eye on the pig in the yard or harvest a pumpkin in a corner of the park. And little else.
Conclusion. The CDRs have already fulfilled their role and must pass. They’ve used up all the energy Fidel Castro gave them and passed through the phase of contempt and decadence Raúl Castro gifted them. They have neither renewal nor mission, and any organization that suffers from these ills must say goodbye. For the good of society, for the good of history. It would serve the CDRs very well to disappear in this way, without making noise, closing the embarrassing and painful files that never should have been opened. Nobody, absolutely nobody, will miss the CDRs in Cuba, not now and, of course, much less, later. It is time to say goodbye and forget an experience that has left in its wake much more damage than social benefit.
Translated by Silvia Suárez
This text was originally published on the blog Cubaeconomía.
COLLABORATE WITH OUR WORK: The 14ymedio team is committed to practicing serious journalism that reflects Cuba’s reality in all its depth. Thank you for joining us on this long journey. We invite you to continue supporting us by becoming a member of 14ymedio now. Together we can continue transforming journalism in Cuba.