A poster placed at the entrance of an apartment building in Havana summarizes the tone of the official call for the upcoming May Day parade. After being suspended for two years due to the covid-19 pandemic, the authorities have wanted to put a less formal stamp on the event and the result is disconcerting.
The list of ten reasons to go to the Plaza de la Revolución that day has been written by hand on several sheets that spell out reasons more similar to those used to participate in a camping trip or a family party than a political rally. As a “fraternal meeting” to “share with distant loved ones,” the list describes the first reason to attend the official celebrations for Labor Day.
The call also ensures that it will be an occasion to break the routine and take “the best photos and artistic designs directly with excellent people.” Only some of the reasons listed contain any ideological nuance, such as “showing that we are not afraid and that unity makes us invincible,” a veiled allusion to the popular protests last July, which brought together thousands of people throughout the country, or the assertion, without much conviction, that “there is socialism for a while.”
However, the most striking of the reasons for participating in the parade is the one that advances the possibility that some of the octogenarians who control the threads of power in Cuba will not survive until next year’s call, warning that “perhaps it will be the last time in the presence of important people in the work of the Revolution.”
The enumeration closes with the invitation to “fill the Plaza until the Malecón dries up,” paraphrasing the lyrics of a song by Jacob Forever, a Cuban reggaeton player, currently residing in Miami, who during the day of the demonstrations on July 11 asked the people to take to the streets peacefully: “Between all of us we can achieve the freedom of Cuba,” the singer assured at the time.
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