Cuba may not have bread, but it still has circuses

It’s been a while since the Castro dictatorship has been able to provide Cubans with bread, but the communist regime can still put on a circus. This is socialism in action.

An Op-Ed by Jorge Angel Perez in Havana via CubaNet (my translation):

Without bread, but with a circus

Bread has been lost, even that small and rough specimen that is part of the “basic basket” and the most recent history of the Cuban nation. The same happens with milk, that which is so essential for the development of infants. The milk that provides calcium, the milk that is essential for the growth and strength of children’s bones, is lost. Milk has become one of our greatest utopias.

Milk, which provides a large number of vitamins and minerals, is missing throughout the Cuban archipelago, and perhaps that is why it has become one of the greatest nightmares for parents and also one of the greatest longings for Cuban parents and children in recent history.

Milk could be something like the center of all our longings, the greatest “utopia” of Thomas More if he recognized the existence of the country. Even more so if he had children in Cuba; and in consecutive order, many other longings could appear, including bread, eggs for the light little tortilla that would end up between the two tiny slices of bread.

Milk in Cuba is a utopia, as much a utopia as Thomas More’s, but the plate of “moros and cristianos” is also a utopia, something Thomas surely did not know. Our life has been filled with imaginations. Utopia is the illusion of being happy with a well-served table, a table overflowing with delicacies and ambrosias that do not go much further than the fried egg.

Our utopia is much lighter than Thomas’s, it is more discreet. Our utopia, our dreams, are ludicrous, almost grotesque. Our utopia is bread spread with butter, bread spread with oil, or bread spread with bread. Our utopias are delusions, imbalances, maladjustments to reality, as happens in almost all utopias, both in Thomas More’s and in the Cuban communists’.

Utopia is not a circus, utopia is not a circus tent that could resemble a lollipop. Utopia is not a candy, utopia is not that tarpaulin raised on aluminum poles that a light wind could undo and send flying through the skies. Utopia is hallucination, and children need more than hallucinations. Children need concrete things the Government replaces with a little bread and a lot of circus.

The circus they have set up in the grounds of the Sports City, in El Cerro, is the happiness of many children, and even of the elders, especially when the most urgent needs of the household were solved. But for others, it is remembering, suffering, realizing the juggling we Cubans do at home. Those juggles we make visible through all hours of the day. A circus and a sale of little roses and sweets around the tent is by no means happiness.

Our utopia, including that of children, is not a circus tent and a sale of popcorn and candies. Our greatest utopia today is a plate of rice with a sparse covering of beans. Happiness can never be found under a circus tent, under that world of “wills and representations”.

Our utopias are not, by far, the sale of candy and popcorn under the tent of that circus. The circus is not happiness, the circus we already have at home and is full of juggling and jugglers, as my mother used to say. The circus is not real happiness. The circus does not replace real happiness or life.

Cuba is a big circus tent where the lion tamers turn out to be very cruel, while the rest of the circus performers are pitiful. The circus, the tent, is not happiness, and we Cubans who have lived under a big circus tent for more than 60 years recognize that very well. The performers of that circus in a damaged tent under which we have lived for more than 60 years, do not agree with the juggling, because we are jugglers every day, because our lives are, by the will of others, the life of a sad circus.

The circus will never, under any circumstances, be a substitute for real happiness. Cubans have lived for more than 60 years under a tent full of docile animals that succumb to the cravings of predators dressed in olive green, who snatch the most docile animals with a bite. A circus tent in the Sports City of the capital will only confront us with our limitations, with our realities. The circus is a metaphor for our lives.

A tent makes us look at ourselves as substitutes for those animals that to survive, jump through the hoop of fire, and also the docile lion that folds under the whip, under the force of the whip that strikes and demands obedience. The circus is a space filled with ominous dictates, of demands for obedience. The circus is something like bread to silence the masses.

The circus, at least in Cuba, at least in those grounds of the Sports City, is a sample of the world as “will and representation.”. The circus promotes the visibility of docile animals, those that turned out to be tamed after a life of freedom and rebellion. The circus is a metaphor for Cuba, and put whatever name you want on the tamers, and, if you think it’s okay, their features, their whole face.

Leave a Comment