Where are the CDR Revolutionaries? / Miriam Celaya

This image illustrates how the official newspaper “Rebel Youth” sees a CDR “fiesta”

As has been the trend in recent years, the once nurtured and animated Committee for the Defense of the Revolution (CDR) “fiestas” on September 27, have been added to the list of Revolutionary anniversaries on the way to extinction.

Just by chance, for personal reasons, I was crossing the city last Thursday and could observe how great apathy had taken over the blocks of the capital, substituting a scandalous silence for those old festivities where CDR neighbors shared a pot of stew in the street, made with officially allocated scraps (some pig’s head or other minor portion of the animal) and vegetables collected from among the neighbors, seasoned thanks to the enthusiasm of the neighborhood’s Revolutionaries, along with a sweet cake and the everlasting and fetid mass-produced rum.

There is nothing so eloquent as this capital now, dark and silent, on the eve of the most popular Revolutionary celebration, which until recently honored the founding of an organization conceived in power, so that Cubans could betray each other and consecrate the surveillance-based police state in service to a dictatorship which, like every autocracy, despises its followers.

Nobody dresses up the blocks with garlands and multi-colored paper flags, and just a few faithful persist in hanging a Cuban flag from their balconies, because for decades they were led to believe that being Cuban and being in the CDR were the same thing; only now are they beginning to learn that they signify the exact opposite.

The few isolated fires I saw were a pathetic specter of past revelry, simply a pretext for the neighborhood drunks, whom nobody wants, to be as wasted as they want in the streets and to mollify their empty stomachs with a little hot broth.

A brief look at the signs shows that all the mass demonstrations that gave a scenic valor to the Castros’ Revolution have disappeared: the marches of the “combatants,” voluntary labor, CDR guard duty, marathon blood donations, collections of raw materials, and more recently these parties.

The extended decline betrays that popular sympathy for the dictatorship is neither spontaneous nor free. I don’t know where Havana’s Revolutionaries were this September 27, but clearly they realize they no longer have much to celebrate.

2 October 2012