This past December 24, Cuba’s government posted a holiday greeting on social media with no mention of Christmas but only Nochebuena, the Christmas Eve celebration which many Cubans could hardly observe this year due to food shortages and impossibly high prices for pork, even chicken. The message, which alluded to the 65th anniversary of the Castro dictatorship, used photos of Fidel Castro at a 1959 Nochebuena dinner with poor Cubans, as an example of his “humility, simplicity, empathy and personal example” (not to mention theater skills, including costume).
This elicited predictably negative online responses, which decried the cynically insensitive move and recalled it was Fidel who later formally vetoed public Christmas celebrations in Cuba for some 30 years, until the 1998 papal visit by John Paul II. During the prior three decades, even private observance of Christmas was seen as objectionable and suspect, a form of ideological deviancy, and many Cubans were afraid to risk the resulting stigma. It is also ironic that even the poor in 1959 could still have a Nochebuena that is now beyond the means of average Cubans.
But, the regime has long lived by propaganda and cannot imagine doing otherwise. It remains willing to insult the intelligence of Cubans as if they were clueless regarding the cause of their misery and penury. I suppose it assumes that if the people have no bread, they can simply get their “diaspora” relatives abroad to send money to buy it (from the state or its affiliates, of course). Never mind that all Cubans do not have that option, but those who don’t are a burden to the state, which would prefer they leave Cuba and become part of the highly profitable “diaspora.”
So, as always, Gracias, Fidel (and enablers, both foreign and domestic). Your noxious legacy does indeed live on.