Comités de represión

In Havana, a museum of little interest

In Havana, a museum of little interest
Ray Sanchez/Direct from Havana | Direct from Havana
7:38 AM EST, December 23, 2008


You wouldn't know the Cuban revolution is about to turn 50 by visiting
the museum of the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution in Old

set up the CDRs in 1960 to be the eyes and ears of his
then-fledgling revolution. The neighborhood groups not only coordinated
local services but also informed communist authorities of dissent and

Soon, the government boasted it had a CDR on every block on the island,
and the organization became part of the glue that held the revolution
together through the toughest years.

With the big New Year's Day anniversary fast approaching, however, the
CDR museum has no special events planned. There are no celebratory
slogans on display, just the same anti-American placard that went up
outside when the museum was inaugurated on Sept. 28, 2007.

"No hay tregua, compay! You understand: No truce. Sr. Bush: este pueblo
no puede ser engañado ni comprado," said the bilingual sign at the
entrance. ("Mr. Bush: our people cannot be deceived nor bought.")

Inside, the two-floor museum has glass cases of revolutionary
memorabilia. There's a tattered banner of the July 26 Movement, and
berets worn by key figures in the epic struggle that changed life on the

There are wall-sized excerpts of Castro's speeches, commemorative CDR
pins and key chains, and a gas lamp used in the literacy campaigns of
the 1960s. In one corner, a chart shows the growth of CDR membership,
which in 2007 reached 8.4 million of Cuba's 11.3 million people.

On a recent weekday afternoon, the museum was empty. Not a single soul
among the hordes of Cubans and tourists strolling down Calle Obispo
stopped to look inside. That is the case most days, according to museum

"More foreigners than Cubans visit us," said one museum guide. "This is
all still new to them. For us, it's getting a little old.",0,3489709.column

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