Comités de represión

The Silence of the Cauldrons

The Silence of the Cauldrons / Rebeca Monzo

Rebeca Monzo, Translator: Unstated

Once again they are celebrating another boring anniversary of the

Committees for the Defense of the Revolution () on my planet. As time

goes on, fewer and fewer people lend their efforts to this farce.

As I was visiting a friend yesterday afternoon in Vedado, I was able to

observe in the formal garden of her building–which still retains the

architectural beauty it had in days past–four neighbors gathered around

a filthy and dented cauldron, poking the logs of a fire that the wind

was determined to put out. They were speaking in loud voices, telling

jokes in bad taste, clad only in shorts and exposing their bare torsos.

It was an image that might well have been found in an engraving from an

old history book about primitive civilizations.

These men were accompanied by three cute little dogs, one of whom had a

woman's name. I made a comment about this to a lady in the elevator with

me. Incensed, she told me it was not just a dog's name, but a bad joke

that showed a lack of disrespect for a neighbor in the building, who had

the same name. To me this was yet another indication of the class of

people to be found making the traditional caldosa* for this event.

During my entire trip home to Nuevo Vedado it was the only preparation

of this sort I was able to observe. It must have been because it was

still early.

Something else I noticed was that the smells coming from the cauldron

were neither pleasant nor unpleasant in spite of the fact that something

was obviously boiling in it. I then realized that almost no one from the

CDR – at least not on my block – went door-to-door requesting

donations for the celebration's communal pot any more as they often did

some years ago. Certainly, food is not only scarce but the prices are

excessively high and almost no one is in a position to give it away.

Besides, there are ever fewer people attending these events since in

their own homes many have to confront on a daily basis what could be

described as – to paraphrase the title from an old film – the silence of

the cauldrons.

Translator's note: Caldosa is traditionally a thick broth or stew.After

the Cuban revolution cooking it became a communal event in which

neighbors brought whatever ingredients they had at hand. Some say this

came about because of food scarcity; others believe that the change had

more to do with the collective emphasis of socialism. (Source:

September 28 2012

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