Cuba and the Communist Moral Code
April 29, 2013
By Martin Guevara*
HAVANA TIMES — Mayte, the head of the Young Communist League (UJC)
committee at my high school, was the girl who presided over those
summary trials we would hold in the classroom after school hours.
The meetings, then referred to as "Communist Moral Code Reviews", were
assemblies in which each student was publicly evaluated and judged in
terms of those qualities which, supposedly, placed them on the right
path to – or made them deviate from – the communist ideal.
When rumors that Mayte was a lesbian spread, she went pale. Suddenly,
she was no longer fit to occupy that lofty position, and her permanent
record began to accumulate the stains she had often caused others to
suffer. Her victims had suddenly become inquisitors. A few days later,
she hanged herself from the branch of a Flamboyant tree.
A hanging spills no blood, so when I looked at the Flamboyant on the
sidewalk across the street from my house and saw its brown pods, hanging
indifferently from the branches, swaying in the breeze beneath bright
red flowers, I would think of Mayte and the many people who had hanged
Those who had refused to fight in Angola because they rejected violence
or out of a basic fear of losing their lives, in a war that was just too
distant; those who had asked permission to leave the country, and had
never obtained it; those who were Jehovah's Witnesses, or had a relative
in the United States and told you they still corresponded with them,
missed them; those who drowned their misery in alcohol; those who had
put out to sea on a makeshift raft and run aground, on the dry earth
where those trees grew.
I pay tribute to all of them. To those who were systematically
intimidated, who were forced to live with an overwhelming sense of
isolation, thirsting for understanding, feeling ashamed of who they were.
Because of all the ills that characterize these one-party systems, which
are deceptively referred to as "socialist", occurs the most baleful,
perverse and sickening misappropriation of a revolutionary language,
which speaks of helping those in most need. It constitutes the hijacking
of people's noblest feelings, feelings of profound empathy towards the
laboring classes and their hardships, towards the poor and hungry of
Because of this, those who believe that they are being stifled by an
authoritarian and omnipresent Power, and feel the overwhelming need to
express their condition, immediately begin to ask themselves if, by
doing that, they could be damaging something greater and ultimately more
important than their individual aspirations.
In short, if they are going against the "Good", a category which has
taken refuge in that domesticated revolutionary discourse, a brilliant
re-articulation of the techniques which time has taught its precursor,
the cunning Church. First cousins.
A warm breeze caresses the cheek of Mayte's father, right where his
bitter tears flow with disquieting persistence. He is already showing
signs of instability: the knots are coming undone, he talks to himself,
drinks without moderation, knocking back the beer they dispense in the
neighborhood, to remain calmly wound-up.
He no longer laughs while playing dominos with the neighbors, no longer
dances at parties thrown by the local Committee for the Defense of the
Revolution (CDR). His face has never regained its color, not since his
daughter fell dead, choked by the weight of History.
Buried by an avalanche of amnesia, Mayte hazily lives on, as a solemn,
chilling, eternal memory.
The time has come, today, to think of the best way we can prevent that
from ever happening again, knowing that it could occur, being ready to
make the soil fertile with nothing other than the footprints we leave
behind as we walk.
Orchids and daisies, strewn over the feet of women who, today, raise
their voices to help us become more aware. Mythical beings dance around
the thick, thorny trunk of the ceiba tree, while the Flamboyant's pods,
crowned by fiery-red flowers, sway in the breeze, recalling the blood of
I salute all of them. I salute you, Mayte.
(*) Born in Argentina, Martin Guevara was raised in Cuba. He is the son
of Juan Martin, Ernesto "Che" Guevara's younger brother. Residing in
Spain, he publishes a blog and is currently writing a book about
contemporary Cuban reality and his renowned uncle.