She has moved her son to three different schools. Between the “emerging teachers,” those who swear there are no Spanish words accented on the antepenultimate syllable (the word for which, in Spanish -- sobreesdrújulas --is itself accented on the antepenultimate syllable), and the political propaganda, she couldn’t take it any more. The last time she put the boy in a theater workshop, she discovered with horror that he was assigned the role of Antonio Guerrero, one of the “Cuban Five” in prison in the U.S. for spying. The little guy left the first school with three warnings in his file: for asking to borrow an eraser; for crying because he wanted to go home; and, the most absurd, for not wanting to sign the previous warnings.
In the second elementary school the director welcomed the new students and their parents with the nice information that, “This school is on double section.” The poor thing was trying to say they had classes in the morning and classes in the afternoon. Then, at the group meeting, the guide warned, “Don’t worry if it’s five o’clock and your children haven’t arrived home, those who misbehave are punished with detention.”
I don’t know what human form the “historic leaders” are planning to get their hands on to reverse all the damage done to the educational system. An increase in the education budget would be insufficient as what is wrong goes far beyond the economy; paying a decent salary to teachers might serve some purpose if they had the necessary pedagogical and academic knowledge, but they don't. To develop a new faculty nationwide would take, at least, ten years. And meanwhile, what are our children learning?
This is an excerpt to a version of the song, Epitaph for Vladimir Visotski by Karsmarski Jacek (Polish dissident songwriter), which includes Ciro Diaz in his latest album, The Blue Slug, that I listened to compulsively for at least two months, especially on the street with my mp3 inherited from a friend who now has an I-pod. (Download the lyrics here) (Download the recording and album cover here) The song (in summary, which runs about ten minutes) is about a desperate artist going through the circles of hell in search of an answer or death, and at the end of his journey there is only loneliness and the weight of the supreme power above himself. So I found myself at times catching the bus across Havana at 12 noon in August under the perennial sunshine and with the distressing feeling of not going anywhere, or arriving too late, or going for pleasure ... I feel that I have already arrived at the eighth enclosure (this is the finale of the song) where there is nothing, and I feel useless and empty, and I look at people without faith who walk along the street and who have so much fear that they no longer know they're afraid, and who have seen so many Roundtables and so many news broadcasts that they no longer know what belongs to reality or just to the TV screen. They cannot discern that they no longer believe, but cannot disbelieve either, and just move along past me not going anywhere.