Thursday, June 20, 2013

Olive Green High Society

Olive Green High Society / Ivan Garcia
Posted on June 19, 2013

They have few reasons to envy of their capitalist counterparts. The
differences between them are ones of rhetoric and philosophy. The
anti-capitalist islanders having studied Marxist manuals and speak on
behalf of the poor.

But many are living at full throttle. At the workplace they wear
sweltering uniforms designed by some sadistic tailor from the former
Soviet Union. Twenty-five years ago they used to get around in
Russian-made Ladas with capitalist tires and stereo systems. They called
attention to themselves.

The top officials were untouchable. Officers used to place their caps in
the rear of their vehicles so that police would not stop them for
traffic violations. Laws were for other people to obey.

The only ones who could dismiss them, punish them, jail them (or shoot
them) were the Castros. They lived in the former residences of Havana's
upper and middle classes in the Siboney, Miramar, Nuevo Vedado, Fontanar
or Casino Deportivo neighborhoods.

They had more than one car and houses with Ikea furniture, electric
kitchens, "made in USA" refrigerators, Sony televisions, South Korean
air conditioners and Philips audio equipment.

They enjoyed three succulent meals a day and once a week they read
articles from the western press that had been condensed for the
directors of the Department of Revolutionary Orientation or the
Communist Party. For vacations they travelled to one of the USSR's
Baltic republics or strolled carefree through Prague's Wenceslas Square.
And they went to Varadero whenever they felt like it.

The drank Czech beer and Yankee whiskey. They smoked cigars for export
and carried American dollars in their wallets back when doing so was
forbidden. Ministers and military brass were fond of dressing up like
Madrid's posh elite or New York's jet set, with Levi's 501 jeans and
polarized Ray-Ban sunglasses.

In the difficult years of the "Special Period," while the masses whom
they lauded suffered from hunger, became ill from malnutrition, put up
with blackouts lasting twelve hours and got around on bicycles, the
revolutionary upper class maintained its same lifestyle. They had
electrical generators in their homes, celebrated with loud parties and
never had to put up with the lousy food — ground beef from soy, meat
paste and Cerelac — devised by Fidel Castro for the average Cuban.

In the 21st century they have become successful entrepreneurs. The
various businesses established with capitalist partners as well as the
"industry" which arose after the increase in remittances sent by Cubans
living overseas nourish members of the armed forces and interior ministry.

An absurd captive market, which forces Cubans to pay for everything from
a bottle of cooking oil to a ventilator in another currency, is managed
by a holding company set up by the military.

Meanwhile, the number of maneuvers intended to counter a supposed Yankee
invasion have diminished. Aging Russian armaments, built in the 1980s
when the government was mobilizing the population for "imminent enemy
aggression," lie rusting in underground bunkers.

Today the new Creole upper class is betting on the world of business. It
advises Venezuelan comrades and secures positions in European embassies.
The old Russian Ladas are no longer fashionable. Now they show off with
Audis and Hummers.

Cuban baseball bores them. They prefer to watch Big League games,
championship football matches and NBA playoffs live on satellite. The
like to play golf or go hunting in exclusive game reserves. They dine as
though they lived in London or Paris. They have internet access at home
and use Skype for video conferencing or for chatting with their children
in Florida.

Offspring of the nouveau riche have studied or are studying at
universities in the United States or Europe. Others, more in tune with
the times than their fathers, prefer to live in exile.

At night this elite bourgeoisie dines at Havana's finest restaurants and
frequents its hottest nightclubs. They dress in designer clothes,
perhaps made in dismal garment factories in Bangladesh. They sport
French perfume and Swiss watches. By day they take part in revolutionary
actions while wearing white guayaberas.

They demand productivity and sacrifice, speak of a prosperous and
sustainable socialism, condemn Yankee imperialism and ask that the
people work with them to end rampant corruption. This new Cuban upper
class loves to foment revolution from the soap box.

Photo: Banquet and show from the XV Festival del Habano 2013, which took
in more than a million dollars. These festivals has been taking place in
the Cuban capital since 1994 and bring together hundreds of celebrities,
specialists and cigar lovers from all over the world. Parents and
children from communist military high society regularly attend these
exclusive, opulent events. From Diario de Yucatán.

Iván García

16 June 2013

Source: "Olive Green High Society / Ivan Garcia | Translating Cuba" -

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