Seremos como el Che!
In most cases, interviewers eventually zero in on those chapters of the book that deal with the seemingly never-ending battle between my parents on the one hand and the Communist regime on the other, to capture the mind of an 11 year old child.
Was it really like that, they ask, sounding somewhat incredulous. Did the regime really teach children from such an early age to be “good” revolutionaries? To hate the Americans? To love Fidel?
And 35 years after my family left Cuba, that insidious indoctrination, as my mother used to call it, it is still going on, judging by a report that appears in today's web edition of Juventud Rebelde, the newspaper of the Union of Communist Youth.
It’s a heart-breaking interview with Sahily Martinez Paz, an 11 year old girl who is a sixth grade pupil at the Josue Pais Primary School in the city of Camaguey.
Sahily has been elected to represent her school at a forthcoming meeting of the Pioneer Movement, the decades-old Soviet-style organisation to which most Cuban primary school-children belong. Its motto is, Seremos como el Che! We will grow up to be like Che!
She is asked what has she learned from being a pionera. Her response: “To love our country and to be good anti-imperialists”.
Asked what she thinks about the “new”, hands-on teaching methods being introduced into schools, she says the use of computers and libraries has helped children become better students “in line with Fidel’s idea of turning Cuba into the most educated country in the world.”
And what does Sahily wants to do when she grows up? She wants to become a militante in the Union of Communist Youth – and study journalism.
As I said, heartbreaking. Read the interview here.