The Weight of History / Reinaldo Escobar

This Tuesday, in the morning, tens of thousands of Young Cubans will be taking their history exam as part of their entrance exams to higher education.  The main content of the test is Cuban history, and it covers from the wars for independence of the 19th century through the early 21st century. To enter university, one has to pass three exams: mathematics, Spanish and history.  The final score on these tests represents 50 percent of the final score that is added to the other 50 percent formed by the cumulative grade point average acquired through three years of high school. Thus, the final scores are accumulated with which students compete for a place to study the major of their choice.

Very often, the opportunity to study a specific major is lost because of a missing decimal point in the final score. That missing decimal point can be the result of giving the wrong answer on the subsection of a single question.

Tomorrow, tens of thousands of Cuban youths’ future will depend on the way they answer questions like these: “When was the Moncada Program* fulfilled?” “What has been the repercussion of the US Blockade against Cuba?” and others of a similar style in which ideology is most important.

Many will answer what is expected of them because to a great extent their chances to fulfill their vocation depends on it.  Then, they will have to face the “University is only for Revolutionaries” requisite, and they will have to make new choices, such as attending an act of repudiation**, or raising their hands to participate in a meeting, or applauding something they dislike.  But, one day they will laugh at all that, and they will tell their children what they had to do to obtain that college degree hanging on their wall.

Translator’s notes:
* The Moncada Program was a series of demands and measures stated by Fidel Castro in his History Will Absolve Me (La historia me absolverá) speech while conducting his own defense at the trial for his assault to the Moncada Army Barracks in 1953.
** The linked video shows images of an act of repudiation against the author of this blog.

Translated by: Ernesto Ariel Suarez

13 May 2013