Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Boys in Vermilion / Luis Felipe Rojas

The Boys in Vermilion / Luis Felipe Rojas
Luis Felipe Rojas, Translator: Raul G.

The remainder of the year threatens to be a difficult time for them.
Very soon they will no longer be among the ranks of what once was one of
Fidel Castro's most promoted projects: the social workers program. At
first, many people mistrusted them as they were used to sniff out Cuban
homes under the pretext of carrying out a national census which demanded
information of who received financial assistance from abroad, who had a
computer, and who could repair a cell phone. But the spoiled kids of
the revolution, those who one night replaced all public vendors in Cuban
gas stations, grew far too arrogant and walked down our streets with an
insolence rarely allowed for a social group of that age. From one day
to the next, after selling some Chinese televisions, refrigerators, or
fans, they stopped trying to look like what they never were: workers,
and only carried the label of socials.

One morning, they started to wear name-brand chains and rings, athletic
shoes, and all the other knick-knacks which their bad taste allowed
them. A considerable number of them were able to take advantage of the
privileges of being able to attend the university and graduate without
much rigor. However, many others saw this opportunity snatched away
from them due to the fact that they were on "missions" outside of their
hometown, perched aboard a sugar cane truck, or a bus which traveled
throughout the country from Havana to Guantanamo, or supervising the
comings and goings of cooking oil from one grocery store to another.

Though their splendor began to fade slowly, until very recently they
were in charge of recommending someone to a labor center, a scholarship,
or they managed a water tank for a specified community. Now they are in
shambles and some gave in and asked to be let go so they could work for
themselves as drivers or carpenters, or go to work for the Interior
Ministry. In a few weeks, two months at most, the government will
reduce their ranks by 80%, according to what they have been informed
during recent meetings.

We will then see them returning home, with the red on their shirts
fading more and more each time, and without that slogan which they once
carried like rifles slung on their backs: "more Cuban, more human".

Translated by Raul G.

12 October 2011

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