Enduring the Revolution
Except there was nothing truly voluntary about it.
And it wasn't just the grown ups.
Secondary school children were also expected to turn up on their one and only day off school and offer to help the Revolution, regardless of age, family, religious or other commitments.
You'd be picked up by a truck early in the morning and go off to pick lemons or work in the sugar fields or in some other form of agricultural work.
Of course, you could politely decline or get your parents to invent some excuse but you knew there was a good chance you'd then be singled out by your school or by the local Committee for the Defence of the Revolution (CDR) as a potential counter-revolutionary troublemaker.
Well, it seems the concept of “voluntary” Sunday work for young people in Cuba is alive and well on the island, as you can read in this dispatch from Escambray, the official newspaper of the Communist Party in the Sancti Spiritus province.
According to the paper, more than 150,000 young people got up bright and early last Sunday, 25 March, to join “volunteer labour activities” across Cuba, including “work in construction, clean-up and beautification", and in "sugar cane harvesting”.
The day of volunteer work was supposed to mark the 45th anniversary of the founding of the Union of Communist Youth (UJC), whose president, Julio Martinez, proudly told the paper that volunteer work had been part and parcel of growing up in Cuba since 1959.
Martinez added that the young volunteers had all happily given up their Sunday to go off to work because they wanted to demonstrate to the ailing Fidel Castro “what can be done to ensure the Revolution endures”.