The Myth of Old Age / Fernando Dámaso

Everything the government does for senior citizens is constantly spoken of and written about in the national media. It all consists of marvelous plans and measures, which, as emphasized, would be impossible without the Revolution. Rhetoric included, it seems to be that the only government in the world taking care of these people is the Cuban government. Anyone who has access to minimal information knows that things are not exactly so.

In the majority of countries, whether first world or otherwise, people use their talents, initiative, and work to build a certain quantity of personal wealth throughout their lives. This wealth translates to satisfying their daily needs by possessing a trade, a profession, a business, a dwelling, an automobile, particular equipment, a bank account, a pension, etc. Such things permit them to provide for their families during their active working life and, after retirement, to have the economic resources necessary to live and enjoy old age traveling, playing sports, attending cultural events and doing what they’d like without having to depend on relatives or the government. In fact, many of the tourists who visit us here are the retired people of these countries.

In our case, this possibility does not exist, as the majority of eternal citizens earn wages from the government without being able to establish any type of business nor possess real property, much less generate and accumulate wealth. People reach old age practically naked, forced to depend on the help of family members and the magnanimous government to survive a miserable retirement without possibilities of enjoying a peaceful and economically secure old age. You simply have to see that there are no retired Cubans taking part in international tourism.

Faced with this reality, the state (responsible for said reality), has no other option than to confront the monstrosity it has created which has prevented citizens from securing their futures during the intellectually active working years of their lives. Trying to cover up the mistakes that were made — and that are still made — with propaganda of false paternalism neither resolves the problem nor convinces anyone. The solution must come by restoring to each citizen the right to build his or her present and future.

Becoming a senior citizen should be a joyful moment that generates new impulses before these different years of life; more about enjoyment than sacrifice. In our case, arriving at old age consists of a mystery, marked by the unknown, by what slips through our hands and must be determined by others. Sad proof that we’ve lost the best years of our lives without preparation for this obligatory moment.

Translated by: Kathryn Sue

June 7 2011