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March 2012
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Cuba Will Receive the Pope with a “Bath of Masses” / Iván García

Cuba Will Receive the Pope with a "Bath of Masses" / Iv?n Garc?a
Iv?n Garc?a, Translator: Unstated

It's something exclusive to the olive-green revolution. Fifty-three
years ago, when Fidel Castro toured the island mounted on a Sherman
tank, after overthrowing the Batista dictatorship, he was feted frankly
and spontaneously by a sea of Cubans and he felt comfortable surrounded
by crowds.

Since that times, the baths of the masses were a weapon of his
revolution. Five decades ago, large segments of people voluntarily
attended the meetings and listened to long speeches of the one comandante.

Over time, that spontaneity is lost. Now in the 21st century, most
people go to political rallies or the hosting of personalities as if
they were going to a carnival. Or to a boring union meeting.

It is a mixture of conditioned reflex and fear. Remember that for years,
answering the calls of the Revolution had an effect on your quality of
life and career. If you were not very Revolutionary and often didn't
attend such concentrations, then forget about winning a Russian Krim 218
black-and-white TV, a Minsk refrigerator, a Lada 2105 car, and even an
apartment in Alamar.

When filling out forms to get an important job, in addition to writing a
detailed biography where you should highlight your loyalty to the
regime, you had to recount the marches you had attended.

In 1989, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, things changed. And between
the exhaustion of power and the disgust of the citizenry for a chaotic
administration and an economy unable to make toothpicks, people just
grumbled at the partying revolutionaries.

Fidel Castro abused those baths of the masses. Up to ten or twelve a
year in Havana or in the capitals of provinces. Whether it was the first
of May, to receive the remains of Che Guevara or demand the return of
Eli?n Gonz?lez.

Those days they paralyzed the country. Public transport stopped working
after midnight and the workers and employees were paid their full wages.
They also suspended classes at all levels of education.

Many workers and students loved the marching soldiers. They could slip
out of the crowd and go home to take a nap.

There are no statistics collected of many engagements and marriages were
forged in those proletarian festivities. Amid shouts and chants, men
made towers of rum or brandy bottles that came in plastic. Or homemade
wine. Or 90 proof alcohol with water. Anything to change the body to
endure hours of standing in the terrifying sun.

Since hand-picked General Raul Castro took the throne, July 31, 2006,
public events decreased quantitatively. Castro II knows the millions of
pesos wasted in all these concentrations convened by his brother.
Mobilizations, the minimum. The key dates. The first of May or the July
26, dates of the autocracy that have become a tradition.

If the country is visited by a distinguished personage, he entertains
them with a bath of the masses. So the organizing committee responsible
for giving a monumental welcome Pope Benedict XVI is oiling the machinery.

Schools and workplaces are ready to welcome the pope when he arrives in
Havana, after canonizing the Virgin of Charity in El Cobre, Santiago de
Cuba. Rene, and phone company engineer, says the union and the core of
the party within the company are calling on workers. Some allege
personal problems for not attending, others say they hold a religious
doctrine contrary to that preached by Benedict XVI.

"Although most people think they'll go. Some out of faith. Others
because they believe that this visit may mark a before and after. Of
course, many of us who go to welcome the Pope in the capital, will
subtly desert and go home to watch it on television," he says.

The papal visit has aroused wide register of opinions in Cuba:
indifference and applause, reviews and dislikes in a sector of the
opposition and Afro-Cuban religions, because the Holy Father is
scheduled to meet with them.

Whether Benedict XVI's visit will make history, as his predecessor John
Paul II's did, remains to be seen. But you can be assured that this
Vicar of Christ will be treated to a bath of masses. And sound. As only
a regime that has made the public acts a registered trademark knows how.

From his Popemobile and in the two masses he will officiate in Cuba,
the Pope will see hundreds of thousands people. While on the island only
10% of the population practices Catholicism. One detail that the German
pope should not overlook.

Photo: Reuters. Preparations in the Revolution Square in Havana, where
Benedict XVI will give a Mass on Wednesday 28 March. Taken from Mart?
News. The Pope will arrive on Monday March 26 in Santiago de Cuba and
say Mass in the Antonio Maceo Square in that city. The next day, Tuesday
27, he will visit to the Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre in the Sanctuary.

March 18 2012 Tags: economy, education, Fidel Castro, public transport, Raul Castro, transport

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