Cuba 2010: The Year of (Even) More Belt Tightening

On the 51st anniversary of the Cuban revolution, Leonardo Padura, Cuba’s best-known novelist, looks at the beginning of the next 50 years.

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(Translated by Achy Obejas)

Havana--Provecta, in Spanish, means "old, mature." (With a certain dignity.) For a person, 51 is a provecta age, especially in terms of maturity (just tell me about it, now that I've surpassed that threshold and can feel myself rusting).

 

The Cuban revolutionary project has reached 51 years of existence and, for a project built on human lives, the figure is, it seems to me, much more than provecta.

 

In the midst of the mystery and official silence when it comes to plans for the future concocted at the highest levels of government, the State and the governing Party (entities that crisscross and blur up at such heights) will determine, according to their directives and without much chance to appeal, the fate of the 11 million residents on the island in a year that marks the beginning of its second half a century in power, starting off, for everyone, with more doubts than certainty, more fear than hope, and more longing than realization.

 

It's curious, after so much time, after managing a few great social achievements (education, universal access to sport and culture, gender and racial equality), that people, even among the country's leadership, talk so soberly about the problems and lack of satisfaction that are challenges even at those levels. That they insist on the evidence of this decline, and that the government now demands cuts in social programs - in complete contrast to the vacuous and propagandist discourse on the official news broadcasts, where there's an excess of social "attainments" and even surplus food. It's also curious that a nation with serious economic problems should consider savings, limiting corruption and the people's initiative to return to work and produce anything as its main sources of income.

 

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