Desde Dentro de Cuba.

Distribuido por Cuba Free Press, Inc. - http://www.cubafreepress.org

Aug. 24, 1999.

IN CUBA THERE'S ALWAYS A LINE, EVEN FOR THE LAST TIME POSSIBLE By Esteban Perez Prince, Cuba Free Press.

HAVANA - Each country has its funeral customs and this island is no exception. The Greeks and Romans believed they had to cross a river, which would take them to Hades, in Charon's boat. To pay for the passage they would place a coin in the mouth of their deceased.

Here, 40 years after the "splendid flowering" of our socialism we can see its special contributions to our funeral rites. Funerals became free of charge shortly after communism was installed; perhaps it would have seemed inhumane to starve people to death - and then charge them to be buried! One chain attached to those free services was the equalization and the universal "graying" of the caskets; they became as poor as the existence of the great majority of the citizens in our archipelago.

Now, as the result of our "special period" we have a new twist added to our funeral pomps: The matter of the "looking glass." Glass panes allow the mourners to have a last look at their loved ones during those final hours. But the shortage of glass panes means most corpses must wait in one of the inner rooms of the funeral homes, waiting for their turn "at the glass."

Until the scheduled funeral processions leave on their assigned day and time the corpses must wait in strict order for their "looking glasses" to be attached to the biers. This adds a surrealistic air to the chapels where mourners wait for the presence of their deceased. Thus was added another item on the interminable list of "problems of our time."

Neither tears nor demands nor "anti-social" attempts at bribery do any good. The standard answer: "The (U.S.) blockade is to blame." That type of statement allows no come-back, no appeal...at least there are no comments which could be repeated aloud. So we have to suffer through that "last line-up" a bitter and humiliating experience in the "paradise of the workers." Except, of course, for those in power. We are all equal, except that some of us are more equal than others!

Esteban Perez Prince, Cuba Free Press.


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