Cuba, fin de año, Ron, cerveza, Santa Clara

A year end with nothing to celebrate

Havana Cuba. — In December 1991, the events that led to the collapse of what was left of the Soviet empire were occurring with astonishing rapidity, as the republics that comprised it, one by one, broke away and proclaimed their independence, breaking the bars of that immense prison of nations that Lenin created.

On December 25, 1991, Mikhail Gorbachev resigned as president of a dissolving country. Six days later, on December 31, the Soviet Union officially ceased to exist, becoming the Russian Federation.

The Castroites, who spoke horrors of Gorbachev and had been delusional about the previous summer’s coup attempt, after it failed, felt like orphaned puppies in the middle of a storm.

At the end of 1989, so that we would not continue learning the truths about the Soviet Union and deluding ourselves with Perestroika, the top brass had banned the circulation in Cuba of Sputnik and Moscow News.

Fidel Castro, despite the fact that he sensed the catastrophe that was coming upon his regime, had aggravated everything by denying the possibility of reforms and leading Cuba in the opposite direction of Perestroika, with his so-called Rectification of Errors and Negative Tendencies, which it replaced the system of economic calculation with the iron economic centralization of Stalinism.

For two years, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Granma and the NTV we were told as little as possible about what was happening in Eastern Europe, where the Kremlin’s satellite governments were falling one after the other, like dominoes.

In December 1990, the Castro regime took advantage of the US military intervention in Panama so that we Cubans would not pay much attention to the overthrow and execution of the tyrant Nicolae Ceaușescu.

The media at the service of the single party painted a bleak picture of the situation in the former European socialist countries, as if warning us of all the bad things that awaited us if “the revolution” succumbed and capitalism was reinstated in Cuba.

Many of us expected that 1991 would be the last year of the Castro regime. His collapse, in view of what happened in Eastern European countries, was what logic indicated should happen in Cuba.

I remember that the end of the year of 1991 was a rare party in which it was not heard, together with the bachatas of Juan Luis Guerra and the revamped boleros of Luis Miguel, the It’s coming from Willy Chirino.

But it didn’t come. The fall of the regime did not occur. Fidel Castro managed to hold on to power. Stubborn, he proclaimed “Socialism or death.” And it didn’t take long for us to die of hunger, because when the Soviet subsidy ended, that nightmare occurred that the bosses, always given to euphemisms, dubbed the “Special Period in Peacetime”.

The end of the year of the Special Period were sad, depressing. But today we miss them. The one of this 2022 is worse, much worse.

During the Special Period, there were no more Cubans who had to give up at the Christmas Eve and December 31 dinners than those who today have money to pay the outrageous prices at which they sell it, after queuing for several days.

And to drown the sorrows, the plastic bottle of rum of the worst quality that they sold through the supply book, at the rate of one for each family nucleus, is not enough.

Either way, what’s there to celebrate? The scarcity, the hunger, the scrambling in lines to buy food, the stratospheric inflation caused by the failure of the Ordering Task? The repressive laws that increasingly tighten us, the prisons with hundreds of young people and adolescents imprisoned for demanding a better life? The divided families, the thousands of Cubans who flee the country, the unknown how many who die in the attempt because of the sea, the sharks, the people traffickers or the Border Guard Troops?

Judging by the triumphalism of the speeches by Díaz-Canel and Prime Minister Marrero, so disconnected from the overwhelming daily life of Cubans, it could be thought that they live in a parallel world.

We all know, you don’t have to be a fortune teller to intuit it, that in the coming year, as the top brass will continue to cling to the same failed policies, everything will continue to go from bad to worse. So, what is there to celebrate this December 31?

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