Desde Dentro de Cuba.

Distribuido por Cuba Free Press, Inc. -

Sept. 29, 1999.


HAVANA - Officials of Cuba's nationalist schools have received from this island's government the fundamental instructions for "deepening" the teaching of Cuba's history. But how can we stop and unravel the tangle created by Cuban communism?

As it strives to generalize, Marxist historiography offers mostly narrow schemes limited to descriptions of class struggles and their role in society. The harm is done to the necessary telling of how personalities and masses interact, in all their complexity. This style of schematic descriptions was transplanted to Cuban pedagogy after 1959. That's when the teaching of history became the brief re-telling of the Spanish conquest and colonization, the wars for independence in the last century and such "facts," starting in 1959, as the government might see fit to give prominence to.

Of the Republican period - 1902 to 1958 - hardly anything is said, except such "happenings" as the foundation of the first Marxist party, the 1930 revolution, the storming of the Moncada barracks...with detailed attention given to the insurrectional struggles triggered by the landing of the yacht Granma in 1956.

This parceling of historical events has replaced, in the minds of the people, a series of meaningful details such as dates, events, participants, motives, etc. This has been the case with our republican period, an era which the majority of our younger population ignore or know next to nothing. They need to know of its governments, their virtues and defects, achievements or failures.

In similar fashion the role played by different components of civil society has been ignored. Such institutions as the Catholic Church, intellectual and artistic organizations, fraternal and service groups, immigrants...among others. The final outcome is the same.

The Cuban Roman Catholic press has placed its finger in the sore: An excellent piece was written by Monsignor Carlos Manuel de Cespedes and published in the May 1998 issue of the magazine "New Word." In that article, the prelate asks Why have we eliminated May 20 from our list of national holidays. He offers pointed commentary which should be heeded by those charged (some day) with rewriting our history books.

So says the priest:" The time has come, in my opinion nearly 100 years after that May 20 of 1902, to accept all of our history - the colonial parts, the North-American intervention, the republican era - without exceptions and to impart to each event the meaning witnesses "with a clean heart" saw in them at the time...We realize our republic has not always been exemplary but it was not a cesspool either!"

He concludes: "...if that May 20 of 1902 was celebrated by earlier Cubans as a date which signaled the end of an era...without rancor for the Spaniards nor for the North Americans, not even for the Cubans lukewarm to the fray...and saw it also as the beginning of a new nation, filled with possibilities for all. If we have continuously celebrated it for so many years since, with the same emotions...and it has served us both as a memorial and as a call to examine our national conscience...Why should it be excluded from our calendars?"

This writer criticizes not only the treatment given to our republican past but historical events which have taken place after 1959, ignored at all educational levels: The exile phenomenon, the anti-Castro guerrillas, the internal name a few.

But, of course, to ask the authorities for these matters to be discussed would be akin to "looking for pears in an elm tree."

Jorge Diego Rodriguez Delgado, Cuba Free Press.

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