The New Man Needs Toys / Dora Leonor Mesa

Without detracting from the prestige gained by Cuban education since 1959, in my view the shortage of toys that children in Cuba have suffered, and do suffer, has been ignored.

While the Russians were sending millions of rubles every day, our parents gave up sleep to buy three toys a year. In schools and kindergartens the situation was no better. The toys are few, the variety and beauty meager. Even the comics (in Cuba we call them muñequitos) for some time were few and not very fun because of the “socialist realism” in the art and culture of the now-extinct socialist bloc.

The Cuban Revolution has abolished private property for more than half a century, and eliminated for-profit education. It attempted to create a kind of “New Man,” with a collectivist outlook and willing to sacrifice for the common good. It created the educational institutions known as “scholarships” — which were, in practice, boarding schools — where many children were kept much of their youth. Along with that came the state-run organizations such as the Organization of Pioneers, the Secondary School Student Federation, the Union of Young Communists and many more.

These plans had a significant impact on Cuban society and dazzled half the world by their novelty and the success in academics extended to many citizens. Behind the strategy were successful Cuban educators with Russian and German advisers of the former socialist camp. This was a valuable aid in pedagogy given the reputation Russian and German schools enjoyed for centuries the.

Toys are generally expensive. But in Cuba today I invite my readers to visit the toy stores at the Hotel Habana Libre or the Carlos III Complex. A doll or a truck that is worth more than $10 in many parts of the world, can only be bought in those stores with the monthly salary of a Cuban surgeon. A remote control SUV can be purchased if desired, with the salary of two surgeons. Do not mention BMX bikes because I might have to include the salaries of the entire medical team in the operating room.

This situation is not new. It’s been like this for decades. So when they say that Cuban children are happy and they do not lack the basics, I remind the “enthusiasts” that a toy for an infant is like water for humans, especially in the world of technology and knowledge.

If you ask a girl how much a Playstation is worth, she might doubt her answer. But ask her what the black market prices are and then she will give you all the details you need, and she will also to update you on the exchange rate between the CUC, the euro and the dollar.

Not bad that children know the world around them but I disagree with those who say that Cuba does not skimp on education resources. On the facts would be preferable to say that is skimps. The list is long: Textbooks are unattractive, teachers lack computers or email, 45% of schools lack telephones, and children lack toys despite the efforts of their parents and teachers to provide them.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 3, paragraph 1 provides:
“In all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.”

Selling is a legal business, selling toys at exorbitant prices, in my opinion, is a scam aimed our daughters and sons. They treat us like the Spanish colonialists treated the Indians: exchanging mirrors for gold.

September 13 2011