14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 19 July 2019 — No study on the behavior and scope of a generation can be circumscribed schematically to the data that is identified with the date of birth. Although age is one of the factors to be taken into account, it will always be possible to find, in a human group, people who identify more with generations previous to, or later than, their own.
The events that occur in an era, the ways of life and the imprint of the influential personalities tend to be markers of greater intensity to define belonging to a given generation.
The so-called historical generation of the Cuban Revolution was mainly nurtured by people born between 1910 and 1940, so that in 2020 the youngest of these will be octogenarians and in 2030 they will definitely be characters of the past.
Behind this group came another (following the demographic norm of framing a generation as a period of 30 years), that entered the world between 1940 and 1970. They are those who lived the most important part of their youth and adulthood starring in or witnessing the events most notable in recent history.
In a vertiginous summary of these decisive events, we should mention the literacy campaign, the battles of Playa Girón (Bay of Pigs), the missile crisis, the Escambray civil war, the death of Ernesto Guevara, the sugar harvest of the 70s, the military campaigns in Africa, the first socialist Constitution, the exodus of the Mariel boatlift, the defeat in Granada, the execution of General Arnaldo Ochoa and the collapse of the socialist camp.
These are the years dominated by atheism, homophobia and political intolerance, and a time when the support of families depended exclusively on a salary provided by the State; when to obtain a home it had to be built by the microbrigade system; and to acquire appliances it was essential to accumulate labor and social merits; while the rationed-subsidized market “covered” most of the needs.
This generation, which was formed listening to the speeches of Fidel Castro and waiting for him and only him to make the decisions, was the object of a massive indoctrination campaign that started at the beginning with the Revolutionary and Prolonged Instruction Schools with the introduction of Marxism-Leninism as a compulsory subject in all university degrees. They were convinced that they were living through the transition period between capitalism and socialism, that the communist future was already in sight in the Soviet Union and that the United States was humanity’s main enemy.
Those who were children were integrated into the Pioneers, while teenagers were initiators of the Association of Young Rebels, which became the Union of Young Communists. They were instilled with the idea that they had a debt to the previous generation that they could only pay with obedience and absolute devotion to the unpostponable tasks of the Revolution, that would anticipate the bright future.
Many of them joined the Cuba Communist Party (PCC) displaying their credentials of having participated in these revolutionary tasks, striving to be exemplary workers and combative defenders of the process in the face of any ideological deviation; but also, in many cases, hiding their religious beliefs or their sexual preferences and removing from their biographies everything that would distance them from that favored letter of introduction: having a humble origin.
This generation, the immediate heir of the one that had achieved the revolutionary triumph, also had the task of obtaining professional training that would allow them to occupy various political, military and administrative positions that could not be filled by the old combatants, many of whom were semi-illiterate.
At present the members of this offspring constitute the majority of the current Central Committee of the PCC, of the Councils of State and of Ministers and of the Parliament and occupy the full spectrum of the academic environment and the control of state enterprises. Their main responsibility has been to maintain the docile unanimity under the watchful eye of a handful of survivors of the so-called historical generation.
It is a domesticated generation (not to say castrated) that knew that the slightest deviation from the official line could result in ostracism, imprisonment or the firing squad, the only alternative being to leave the island forever leaving behind property, families and dreams.
A man who was not eligble to vote for the 1976 Constitution, because he was 65 days short of the required age, was the first and will be the last Cuban president contributed by the generation of the heirs.
Promising to maintain continuity, Miguel Díaz-Canel has served as president of the Councils of State and of Ministers and will be appointed at the end of this year or the beginning of the next one in the new position of President of the Republic where (if he serves a second term) will remain until 2030.
By that date the younger contemporaries of Diaz-Canel will already be preparing their retirement while “the older ones,” born starting in the 1940s, will vegetate in the asylums or rest in the cemeteries.
If events do not take a dramatic turn, whoever replaces Díaz-Canel will be someone born no later than 1970 and before 2000, fulfilling the requirements of the current Constitution. This new breed of Cuban political personalities will also occupy a large part of the ranks of the Parliament, the ministerial portfolios and the seats of the Central Committee of the Party. Maybe that is the generation of change. It will have to draw its own portrait.
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