'Little Old Communists' / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar
14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar, Havana, 25 February 2017 — Many of those who
experienced the first moments of the Revolution when they were between
the ages of 14 and 20, became literacy teachers, young rebels,
militiamen, cederistas (supporters of the Committees for the Defense of
the Revolution) and federadas ( 'federated', i.e. supporters and
activists of the Revolution). They overachieved every challenge and
climbing five peaks or walking 62 kilometers ended up being credentials
of high social value.
It was common to see them with a pistol at their belts bragging about
their exploits at the Bay of Pigs or cleaning up the Revolution's
opponents in the Escambray Mountains. It was the time of the Schools of
Revolutionary Instruction, of a Marxism manual tucked under one arm and
simplified atheism. In those prodigious years of the 1960s they embodied
the true fervor of youth and, consequently, an ideological prejudice
against the elderly took root.
A poet, then (and still) unknown, would write fiery verses under the
provocative title of If the old woman in front took power where he
described in the purest colloquial style the retrograde measures that
would be dictated by this hypothetical lady, probably bourgeois and
resentful, in a word: a gusana, a worm. In fact the term "old worm"
already seemed a redundancy in the mouth of those tropical Red Guards…
But time passed and many vultures flew over monument in the Plaza of the
A new generation, with very different goals, today launches its
prejudicial darts against anyone over 70. But they no longer use the
expletive "old worm," instead they choose its diametrical opposite:
"little old communist."
A diminutive, as any good linguist knows, can be loaded with tenderness
or contempt. It is not the same to say "granny" as it is to say "little
teacher." And this epithet of "little old man," or woman, wrapped in a
false commiseration falls with its full weight of impairment on the line
of retirees who get in line early in the morning to buy the
newspaper Granma, or on any gray-haired person always ready to utter
some admonition to the teenagers who saunter out of the high schools
with their shirts untucked.
Destiny has these intrinsic twists. For a boy who spends most of his day
thinking about how to leave the country, anyone who passed up a historic
opportunity to leave this shipwrecked island must be an accomplice, if
not the one personally responsibly for all his angst.
If there is a space for a smile after the macabre grimace of death,
those "old worms" must be amusing themselves in the face of the painful
spectacle offered by their former dentists, who no longer dread the
future, but rather ruminate on a defeat they do not want to recognize.
Source: 'Little Old Communists' / 14ymedio, Reinaldo Escobar –
Translating Cuba -