Desde Dentro de Cuba.

Distribuido por Cuba Free Press, Inc. -

Dec. 29, 1999

CHILDREN CAN THINK TOO. By Ileana Gonzalez Rodriguez of the Frank Pais 30th of November Democratic Party, the Committee on Humanitarian and Religious Aid to Prisoners and the Confederation of Cuban Workers, for Cuba Free Press.

Havana.- A day or so before Dec. 12, in a ninth-grade classroom of the Carlos Perez highs school in the capital neighborhood of Arroyo Naranjo, the silence was complete. The students were studying for a math test scheduled for the 12th.

Suddenly, without warning, a student broke the silence to ask the teacher, "Prof, (commonly used diminutive of professor), why do they want Elian to come back if next year (when he becomes seven) he will be deprived of milk?"

The teacher did not answer, merely giving the student an angry glance and showing other body language that must have convinced him to remain silent. She could not answer the youngster's innocent question, a question asked by thousands of Cuban children. What answer could she give? She knows the question is normal.

The other students in the classroom smiled and nodded at the question and one later told the student who had asked the question, "Beware, now you will flunk the math test."

The youngsters for awhile made jokes, saying things like, "Elian, my friend take me with you," or "Elian send the comics to me," or "What Elian tells his dad is 'Papa be quiet and wait for my package!'"

It is not surprising how upset millions or people can get. Not about Elian but over the overwhelming rhetoric of the government about this tragedy. Everything has been turned into politics. The government has spent thousands of pesos on open podiums, billboards, pullover shirts, etc. (Students who do not have uniforms and must attend school with regular clothing get punished for that.) People ask why aren't the money, time and energy being spent for the distribution of snacks, uniforms and study materials for the school children? Why use so much paper to make signboards by the thousands? Why not use it to make notebooks for Cuban children?

Many children lack basic supplies like notebooks, pencils, erasers, etc. for school. And there are too many who go to school with no breakfasts. Of course they get no snacks in school and many times have no lunches until they return home after school. Some go for days with empty stomachs, struggling to get a certificate or degree so as to make a living in the future - which so often lacks opportunities for the young generations.

Those who realize the cruel manipulations occurring over the future of this innocent child, Elian, who was not kidnapped, are like a neighbor who asked, "Why did not the government do something when the Cuban tugboat 13th of March (13 de Marzo) was sunk? They knew that many children were murdered there without pity?"

Cubans know that the tugboat massacre remains untouched, with the guilty running free through the Cuban streets with no remorse for what happened, no consideration for the suffering of the families and no punishment for such a vile crime, a crime that surely had the authorization of this totalitarian government.

Our neighbors also ask why is the U. S. government being judged or condemned for saving the life of this child from this regime and the sea, a child whose mother together with him were in search of freedom, freedom so much needed for them and other children who wish to be with Elian now?

They ask why were the criminals who authorized this tyrannical government to murder the children and adults aboard the tugboat 13 de Marzo on July 13, 1994 are not judged? They express hope that some day the government's political rallies and this totalitarian regime will end so that Cubans can enjoy a free country, with liberty, democracy and true independence.

Ileana González Rodríguez of the Frank Pais 30th of November Democratic Party, the Committee on Humanitarian and Religious Aid to Prisoners and the Confederation of Cuban Workers, for Cuba Free Press.

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