Cuba’s Revolutionary Nostalgia

Cuba, the football analogy:

Indeed, to get a sense for what it’s like to be 18 and Cuban these days, imagine going to a high school that won a miraculous and inspiring football championship in 1959. The guy that quarterbacked the team some 50 years ago is still wearing the same damned uniform—only now he’s the school principal, and he’s decreed that all academic subjects must be studied within the context of that bygone championship game. Everyone at your school is now an honorary member of the football team—though the stadium is condemned from years of neglect, no actual games have been played in decades and anyone with the temerity to point out this discrepancy is summarily sent to detention. On most school days you’re required to study your principal’s old pass-routes and blocking schemes and tell him how ingenious he was to have devised them. All of which would seem insane were it not for the fact that tourists from wealthier schools—schools with actual, functioning football teams—are constantly visiting your class to marvel over how wonderful it was that your team triumphed 50 years ago, and gush about how proud you must be to have such innovative role models. In this context, it’s easy to understand why young Cubans are underwhelmed by the idea of Che: To them, he’s just another sepia portrait in the trophy case—handsome and intriguing, perhaps, but hardly relevant or revolutionary.