Cuba’s New Middle Class IdentityJanuary 10, 2014 | Print |
HAVANA TIMES — The way people in Havana have reacted to the high prices of automobiles in this new State market is staggering. People who don’t even earn enough to get through the month are appalled with the news, as though the real possibility of purchasing a vehicle had been ripped from their hands.
Could it be that a middle class mentality is gaining ground in the popular imaginary? I can’t find a better explanation.
In the first days of January this year, a new Labor Bill that legitimates exploitation and continues to transfer power from worker to employer came into effect. What was the reaction of Cuba’s workers? Nearly null: no one on the street said anything about it.
In cyberspace (dominated by what I refer to, with no derisory intent, the “counterrevolutionary perspective”), it barely ticked anyone off.
The counterrevolutionary and middle class perspectives are similar, though they do not agree on all points. For instance, if the police mistreat the Ladies in White or detain a dissident who’s expressed his longing for freedom in public for an indefinite period of time, people’s reactions tend to be rather pale.
There is a long list of elementary rights the government tramples on unabashedly, but people keep a stiff upper lip.
It is very funny, then, that the “people” should get stirred up and develop a sense of indignation and belonging, not because the markets are under-stocked or the government sells crucial consumer products at 250 % their market price, not because of the declining quality of education or healthcare, not even because of a lack of freedom and democracy, but because the class they feel they belong to had its wings clipped.