A Sentimental Education / Regina Coyula

Phrases and slogans are often survival strategies, empty expressions that are repeated time and again until they form a part of the landscape.  The University is for Revolutionaries is one of these phrases that nevertheless makes sense when we can peek inside a protest rally or act of revolutionary reaffirmation such as that held last week against the Ladies in White.

I will not dwell too much on the potential risk of filming, so evident in the distancing of Luz Escobar from what is going on all around, especially seeing and hearing the demand of some of the participants beating on the door for entrance to Laura Pollán’s house; she wasn’t disposed to let these battle-hardened classmates discover and enemy among them.

I want to call attention to the use of university students in these demonstrations of hatred. They are brought in deceitfully, taking into account the importance of gregariousness among the young, and from there, the behavior expected of them. Spontaneous or induced, the fear of showing a lack of ideological firmness which has repercussion on their professional future, to be clever and/or charismatic for different purposes.

The students are taken there during school hours, for a curricular activity that counts as attendance, they are saddled with a badly told story, and between the generalizations and omissions each constructs their own version. Later it is the individual attitude that becomes collective (again, the gregariousness).

Meanwhile, they continue singing songs, which could be annoying but not threatening, but there are always the spontaneous or the indoctrinated who want to excel, raise the stakes, and in this enervated environment these young students, those good kids who worry about the environment and look after their grandparents, I don’t say they don’t think twice, no; they don’t think to commit any vandalism in the name of THEIR revolution, a revolution that is neither theirs nor a revolution (again, emptied of content).

The Ladies in White represent a part of what in any democratic country makes up the opposition to the government. Systematically demonizing them increases their visibility, and however many videos are edited to make them appear evil, their peaceful march continues to garner sympathy.

The fairs of hatred mounted by the repressive apparatus with the government’s permission in Neptune Street, very close to the University, should be incompatible with the current campaign for economic optimization, austerity and savings. The buses and fuel to take the students from the distant universities such as CUJAE or Varona Pedagogical, snacks, a screen mounted in the middle of the street for audiovisuals, a meeting point at Trillo Park where they distribute the troops …

These fairs of hatred should also be incompatible with the current campaign to eradicate antisocial conduct and bad habits and to recover civic discipline, given the shortcomings of the New Man to perform in his environment. They serve, however, the complete opposite: recalling the shameful episodes of the eighties, Jewish children in Nazi Germany, spurring on the worst of each university compelled to scream, as you can see so well in the video.

Many will allude to individual responsibility. Every young person is already grown and knows what they are doing. And therein lies the subtlety of government repression: it doesn’t matter what you think, just scream and nothing will happen to you. The road to democracy will have as one of its biggest challenges to mend the anthropological the damage of such “subtleties.”

23 October 2013

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