Lost Values

Act of repudiation in the Civil Society Forum at the Americas Summit in Panama
Act of repudiation in the Civil Society Forum at the Americas Summit in Panama

The theme of the loss of values and their restoration in Cuban society has become an obsession for government authorities, but everything moves more along the line of speeches, staged scenes and slogans, rather than in a serious search for the causes and the application of effective measures to help change the situation.

In the much vilified Republican era there prevailed ethical and moral values among the majority of Cubans that no distortion of history can deny. Honesty, respect, dignity, the value of one’s word, honor, social discipline, education, treating people well and many others were passed along by the family, school and society. There were inculcated in individuals from the time they were small and became natural attributes of Cubans of that time, regardless of age or social background. There were also those who ignored them, but they were few and constantly faced public opinion and rejection. 

To now attribute the loss of these values to the dazzle for many of the consumer society is the wrong approach to the problem


This situation was inherited by the new regime established as of 1959. For some years they were maintained but with the passage of time, the dispersion of the family, the decline in educational requirements, and the repetition of empty speeches, a dent was made in the values. To this is added the failure to keep many promises, the deterioration of the economy, wages and miserable pensions and the loss of credibility among the leaders. All this eroded the values that had characterized Cubans during the colonial and Republican eras.

To now attribute the loss of these values to the dazzle for many of the consumer society is the wrong approach to the problem. During the Republican era we were much more consumer oriented than right now, because we had the economic resources to be so, and always maintained it.

Material misery engenders moral misery. That is the principal cause of the loss of values. As the material misery of Cubans increased, due to a broken economic system, not only incapable of producing wealth but even of producing the necessities for a decent living, the premise of “every man for himself” was imposed.

It is not with empty words, roundtables, workshops, conferences and other bureaucratic inventions, nor with the forced signing of ethic codes, that the lost values are restored, but with concrete, effective and deep economic measures that will lift the country out of the crisis in which it finds itself, and where Cubans can again live as citizens and even dream. These measures must be accompanied by social and political changes where citizenship again acquires its real value, which never should have been stripped away.

Until this happens, everything will be a waste of time.

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