Different Times / Fernando Damaso
Posted on August 29, 2014
In my far-off childhood, extracurricular organizations — whether public
or private — were concerned principally with sponsoring weekend trips to
interesting natural locations, cultural institutions or factories.
The goal was to encourage our love of nature, expand our general
knowledge, provide opportunities to attend age-appropriate entertainment
events, enhance participation in sports, arrange excursions to the
beach, and other such activities.
We were also involved in social service activities such as participating
in public health campaigns, collecting donations for the blind, cancer
treatment, park improvements and other causes. We were interested in all
of them. They motivated us and taught us civic and social
responsibility. We were never used as tools for political or ideological
I noticed that the Pioneers of Cuba* have recently announced changes for
the upcoming season of activities. It will be interesting to see if
these changes are intended to depoliticize the organization by
prohibiting children from participating in acts of repudiation to a
reggaeton beat, public protests against the “eternal enemy” with
speeches written by their teachers, gatherings in support of the
“eternal commander,” and similar activities which have been routine for
years. I believe these changes are intended “to test the maturity,
initiative and sense of responsibility of the pioneers, and their
ability to discern, decide and act.”
The organization’s designated president — an official from the Young
Communist Pioneers well past the age of her members — has also decreed
that beginning September 1, the season’s start date, children and
adolescents will be required to condemn subversive actions by U.S.
government against Cuba, and participate in actions in solidarity with
the Cuban Five, the children of Palestine and other peoples. Very
appropriate childhood activities, I am sure.
Why not let children be children and allow them to experience their
childhoods without imposing adult hatreds? From the moment you are born,
you are allotted a pioneeer neckerchief in your ration book, even if
neither you nor your parents want it. Most people just go along because,
if they refuse, “the road to hell” awaits them. Ironically, most of
those who have emigrated or are in the process of emigrating were once
In reality there should be other changes, such as dropping the
requirement that children join the Pioneers. As things stand now, the
change that has been announced simply amounts to more of the same.
*Translator’s note: A communist youth organization with activities
similar to those of the Boy Scouts but with an additional focus on
communist ideology. Children enter into the organization in elementary
school and continue until adolescence, at which point they often join
the Young Communist League. In Cuba members’ uniforms include a
characteristic red or blue neckerchief.
23 August 2014
Source: Different Times / Fernando Damaso | Translating Cuba –