Desde Dentro de Cuba.

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

Oct. 29, 1999.

FOR THE YOUNGSTERS: ANOTHER "SUMMER WITH PAINS AND NO GLORY" By Rafaela Lasalle Linares, Cuba Free Press.

Maria is a youngster, 14 years old, and her situation illustrated what happened to the young people as the July and August vacations rolled past. She faced the usual "problem," where to go? As usual, there were not many choices. She wanted to go to the beaches...but how to get there? There were only the trucks, so uncomfortably crowded and with only a few rudimentary seats. There are situations which you must experience to understand them; you have to ride those "beach trucks." There are not enough words in our language, rich as it is, to describe them.

Of course those trips to Siboney, Malverde, Caliston and the more popular beaches were not just for the teens. At then end of summer, the tide of children and grown-ups is quite high.

Another favorite of vacationers: the amusement park. But it has only a few broken-down rides and hardly any food to sell. The theatre options are not at all attractive. The historical sites, around Santiago, offer nothing of relevance. These two months of "disconnection" as the young people like to call them, passed, with hardly anyone realizing it was the last of the century.

And...what about when summer was over? Maria and her classmates went back to school. What awaited them was the rural "outing," which is what the authorities call "voluntary," meaning the compulsory obligation to do farm work.

This year the youngsters' job was to help with the coffee bean harvest. Their school, named Argenis Burgos, has about 40 years experience in this task! Still, the parents of those high school youth had quite a surprise when they visited their "outing camp." There were not enough beds, no water for personal hygiene (they were using a near-by river), there was no electricity in the cabins. A group of them decided to take their children back after that first visit.

So Maria and her friends went through a boring summer, with pains and no glory, and now face a school year which will open their doors to the next century, the new millenium.

By Rafaela Lassalle Linares.


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