“El periódico ha de estar siempre como los correos antiguos, con el caballo enjaezado, la fusta en la mano y la espuela en el tacón.  Debe desobedecer los apetitos del bien personal y atender imparcialmente al bien público”.
José Martí

Cuba’s Youth in the Post Fidel Era

Mural de Avenida De la Habana. Foto: Raquel Pérez Díaz

Photo: Raquel Perez Diaz

Fidel Castro’s death highlights the need for a generational transfer in the nation. It is already more or less defined what will happen in the political and economic superstructure in the coming two years, with First Vice President Miguel Díaz Canel leading a government team of his generation.

Raul Castro will step down as president in 2018, but may remain as First Secretary of the Communist Party. Thus, for the first time, the two centers of power, the Government and the Party would not be in the hands of the same person, which implies a healthy separation of powers.

General Castro has consolidated his government and the generational transfer, one of the more complex tasks that he faced when taking the reins. A team of people between the ages of 50 and 60 is already leading the country and preparing to continue the reform process after 2018.

However, the issue is not merely a thing of the superstructure. Many young people feel that the country does not belong to them, that the rules of the game have been set by others and that they only have to accept them or continue to increase the emigration statistics.

Los jóvenes navegan en un mundo virtual, un misterio que despierta sospechas entre sus padres y abuelos. Foto: Raquel Pérez Díaz

Young people navigate a virtual world, a mystery that arouses suspicions between their parents and grandparents. Photo: Raquel Perez

“I’m tired; I cannot take it anymore that they open fire constantly because I write in one or two international websites. I am a revolutionary and a Fidelista, but they attack me constantly. I’m sick of the suspicions, so I’m going to do a postgraduate abroad. ”

A young Cuban communicator told me this a couple of weeks ago while we were talking about the situation of the country. Surely he will leave as others have gone and the paradox is that they do not leave Cuba for economic reasons or for political differences with the revolution.

In an earlier post I explained the case of a young and brilliant mathematician-cybernetic expert, who tried to combine his work on the island with another for an important foreign company. But they harassed him so much that in the end he ended up going to work in another country.

And when the young people do not leave we throw them out. The University of Havana has just dismissed two prestigious professors, economist Omar Everleny Perez and the jurist Julio Antonio Fernandez. Both suffer from a terrible evil, to think with their own mind and express their opinions in public.

La emigración de jóvenes está dejando a Cuba personas en edad laboral y afectando la tasa de natalidad. Foto: Raquel Pérez Díaz

The emigration of young people is leaving Cuba short of people of working age and affecting the birthrate. Photo: Raquel Perez

The nation ages but that process is not only a product of the long life expectancy of the Cubans. It is also because many young people leave the island, including tens of thousands of women of childbearing age, affecting the fall of the birthrate.

Cuba cannot stop emigration in the same way that no third-world country has achieved it. The temptation of the First World is enormous for the poor and much more for Cubans who are poor with an education, which opens doors more than the rest.

Cuban migration could, however, be greatly reduced if the demands of young people were heard; if society were more open to giving them space and, above all, if they themselves were able to demand their right to decide the future of the nation.

And this last point is key because accusing only the “old people” of the space that the young people do not have in Cuba would be unfair. A few days ago former Uruguayan president Pepe Mujica told a Cuban journalist that “Young people are never given the baton. They have always had to elbow their way of their own efforts. ”

For the elderly Tupamaro guerrilla “young people are not to be pitied that need to be provided,” to the contrary, “the duty of youth is to fight for change. Changes that are generational, but also of struggle and a path. ”

“They have to have a defiant attitude and learn that nobody is going to give them anything; they are the product of a time that is not better or worse, but different. And above all they should not make the mistakes we made, but the mistakes of their own time,” said Mujica.

It would be healthy for the nation that the slogan, “I am Fidel,” be taken to heart, until the young people feel they have the right and the duty to take part in the designing of the future Cuban society, although in order to achieve it they have to break through with their elbows.

Jóvenes Cubanos durante el sepelio de Fidel Castro. Foto: Raquel Pérez Díaz

Photo: Raquel Pérez Díaz

Translation: Havana Times

About Fernando Ravsberg

Nacido en Uruguay, corresponsal de Público en Cuba y profesor del post grado de “Información internacional y países del Sur” de la Universidad Complutense de Madrid. Fue periodista de BBC Mundo, Telemundo de EEUU, Radio Nacional de Suecia y TV Azteca de México. Autor de 3 libros, El Rompecabezas Cubano, Reportajes de Guerra y Retratos.


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