Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Talk About “Improper Conduct”…

Talk About "Improper Conduct"… / Miriam Celaya
Posted on July 29, 2013

The government is campaigning for the 'loss of ethical and moral values'
in society, but what about the disrespect of entering into armament
arrangements with the North Korean dictatorship?

The title refers to a memorable documentary that many of us Cubans
everywhere must have seen, based on the testimony of those who suffered
stark arbitrariness and terror introduced by the Castro regime in the
purge unleashed some forty years ago. Improper conduct was an illegal
crime figure established in the 60′s and 70′s of the last century by the
Castro regime to suppress what was officially considered sexual
deviations (homosexuality, "sentimentality"), ideological deviation or
anything that could be interpreted by the authorities as politically
incorrect. Many intellectuals, artists and ordinary people were
arrested, ousted, sent to labor camps or simply made to feel as
strangers in their own country.

Most of the anonymous victims of the witch hunt, which was established
as State policy were men, for committing the serious offense of wearing
their hair long, their pants too tight, not joining the "people's
harvests" or who preferred a certain type of music, among others. No one
escaped the close scrutiny of the Inquisition and its olive green
zealous executives. Anyone could fall out of favor against the rigid
revolutionary parameters.

The repression continued for a time, but the methods changed. Some of
what was once condemned became tolerated, and, currently, schematic
guerrillas have been forced to take on new poses and to even accept
certain differences. Without apologizing for the damage, without
admitting that the unprecedented persecution or the attack against basic
rights of free people, that same government now pretends to be in charge
of the defense of those rights, and, to prove it, it promotes campaigns,
holds events and even organizes parades and festivals.

However, following the speech by the General President at the recent
session of the National Assembly, in which he announced a crusade
against rudeness and social indiscipline, he said that the wind of
censure against "the loss of moral and ethical values" is once again
blowing through our streets. Some people claim that fines are being
applied to persons who "swear" or profess rudeness in public, who board
the bus through the back door or who don't pay their fares, those who
are loud and disturb their neighbors, who throw garbage and debris on
the road, etc. In principle, it would not be such a bad thing if it
weren't just one more campaign, or if there were just one Cuban free
from all these sins in order to fine the sinners or, if applying these
measures didn't interfere with the rights of other citizens.

For instance, a few days ago, a teenager whom I will call Daniel,
residing in the municipality of El Cerro in Havana, was returning home
after his high school graduation. With the ease and ideas of spontaneity
typical of his age, feeling himself without the responsibilities of
schooling and under the harsh summer sun, he had rolled up the legs of
his ugly and faded yellow school uniform, and his shirt was partially
unbuttoned and hanging outside the waistline of his pants. Carefree, he
walked while concentrating on the music blaring in his ears, so he was
taken by surprise when a man, very authoritatively, abruptly stopped him
in the middle of the street, after demanding the boy take off his
headphones and unroll his pant legs immediately.

Instantly, Daniel doubted whether the man was in his right mind, so he
demanded to know who he was and why he should obey him. Then the
individual identified himself, not by his name but as an "inspector of
minors", he accused him of incorrectly wearing his uniform, "a symbol of
the mother country that the Revolution had given him" and because of
that, his parents could be fined and he could be detained in a "care
center for improperly behaved youths."

Not allowing himself to be too impressed, Daniel explained that he was
not in uniform because, in fact, he was returning from his high school
graduation, so he wouldn't have any more use for it, that he was going
home after having stood in the hot sun in the schoolyard for a very long
time, listening to the required speeches before getting his diploma, and
that, as he understood it, the symbols of the motherland were the Cuban
flag, the national coat of arms and the Bayamo* National Anthem and not
an old pair of pants that -to be exact- the revolution had not given to
him, but that his mother had bought at an excessive price in the black
market after, a year ago, he had outgrown the one rationed to him. The
man persisted with his threats, demanded the boy's identity card and
even tried to hold Daniel by the arm. Then, the teenager shook him off
and, seriously scared, ran all the way home.

The event, unconditionally true, is based on the direct testimony of the
boy and his family. But, in fact, the important thing here is not simply
to determine if Daniel acted correctly or not. For many years it has
been customary among our teenagers graduating from different levels to
perform this kind of rite of passage which desecrates the old uniform,
considered by them -and by previous generations, no longer so young- a
symbol of the control that educational institutions exercised over their
lives. It's merely an innocent act of rebellion, typical of this stage
in their lives, that results in disparate forms of expression: from
having their shirts autographed by their classmates to intentionally
tearing their uniforms into strips while they are wearing them, without
any major consequences.

What this is about, essentially, is that no officer or agent of the
government has the authority to coerce a child, whether in private or in
public, thus transgressing the rights of that teenager, as well as those
of his parents and of other adult family members. The significance of
the matter is that, in different hues and in another scenario, official
impunity and people's defenselessness are repeated, counter to the
supposed "changes" that the Government advocates, which should
immediately set off fire alarms in the population.

And because this is about fines and punishments, the government is not
able to take up the slack. These days, Cubans are the ones who should
analyze what actions to take about the unspeakable rudeness on the part
of their government of entering into arrangements with our other
planet's dictatorship, the North Koreans, cheating the Cuban people and
offending the civilized world and the international organizations of
which we are members. Castro II should explain this and many other
violations that betray the government's lack of ethical and moral values
before attempting to apply enforcement action over his "governed".

We should also have to include in the analysis the direct responsibility
of half a century of totalitarian abuse in the loss of ethics and moral
values of our society, not to mention the systematic violation of
citizens' rights throughout all that time. Too bad this same government
has also deprived us, with the suppression of civic institutions, of the
tools to demand explanations and ensure compliance. Without a doubt, the
hour is getting close for the beginning of real reforms in Cuba,
starting with policies.

*Cuban National Anthem's original and traditional title

Miriam Celaya | Havana | July 26th, 2013

From Diario de Cuba

Translated by Norma Whiting

Source: "Talk About "Improper Conduct"… / Miriam Celaya | Translating
Cuba" -

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