Reclaiming The Parental Authority They Snatched From Us
Reclaiming The Parental Authority They Snatched From Us / 14ymedio,
Posted on October 17, 2015
14ymedio, Jorge Guillén, Candelaria, Artemisa, 15 October 2015 — In the
early years of the Cuban Revolution we experienced one of the saddest
chapters of our history, called “Operation Peter Pan.” Thousands of
parents sent their children abroad to avoid the government taking their
parental authority from them and sending their children to the Soviet
Union, according to the propaganda of the time. Official figures put the
number of children who left Cuba via this program at 14,048, and many of
them were never reunited with their families.
Although those demons against parental authority did not materialize the
way in which it was thought they might, the consequence of government
policies was that we Cuban parents had less and less impact on the
education of our children. We could not choose what kind of education
small children received, nor where they studied. All the private and
religious schools were closed, leaving it to the government to impart
knowledge and values and to determine the way in which this was done.
Childcare centers arose where children were taken at a very early age,
many of them as young as 45 days old. In addition, schools in the
countryside appeared – high schools, technical schools and junior high
schools — where children boarded, spending most of their time separated
from their homes. These schools only allowed students to return home on
the weekends, or every 15 days, so that children and teens slept only a
few nights a month under the same roof as their parents.
Then began the far-reaching process of depersonalization and uprooting.
These boarding schools had a semi-military regimen, but bullying and
vulgarity raged throughout. Any glimmer of culture and delicacy
displayed by a student was interpreted as weakness or as evidence of
being a petit bourgeoisie, which was the equivalent of being a
Those who professed any religion were treated similarly. Thousands of
people were forced to renounce their faith or their way of thinking to
be allowed to study and to avoid being branded as traitors.
Brainwashing, applied from an early age to the students at these
schools, also deprived parents of the chance to have more control over
their children. Fidel Castro’s slogan in which he asserted “we no longer
belong to ourselves, we belong entirely to the motherland” became
increasingly real. Under this maxim, the government gave itself the
right to break apart families in the name of the Revolution.
Meanwhile, parents were overwhelmed by “voluntary work,” military
mobilizations and other ideological and work responsibilities, which
also reduced the time available to spend at home with their families.
Life was lived away from home, among “comrades” and colleagues, so that
over time ties within the home were weakened.
These circumstances did great damage to families and, as a result, to
society. In many cases parents confronted their own children and
demanded that they give up their personal plans to take on the
challenges of the Revolution. In this process of “massification,” the
individual was degraded to the point of being turned into a puppet.
Today we are reaping the fruits of these policies. The official
discourse tries to hold families responsible for the ethical and moral
disaster overwhelming Cuban society when the main culprit has been the
government itself, in its zeal for control and maintaining power,
regardless of the effects on the dismemberment and corruption of
families. The loss of values is also blamed on the hardships of the
Special Period, but the reality is that this disaster began to take
shape from the beginning of the Revolution.
We parents need to recover the right and the freedom to decide how and
what kind of education we want for our children. Giving prominence to
the family in the raising of the youngest children could begin to repair
the evil that has been done. Only then, would we be reclaiming our
Source: Reclaiming The Parental Authority They Snatched From Us /
14ymedio, Jorge Guillen | Translating Cuba –