Tuesday, May 14, 2013

"The People's Partner"

Rachael Trost

Reporting from Havana

It was like they were coming for us. Stevie, Claudia, and I were conducting interviews outside the United States Interest Section in Havana when the faint sound of drums began spiking the audio levels on my camera. We had been on assignment recording the stories of Cubans who were trying to visit or immigrate to the United States. The booming sound grew and grew until the sight of the Cuban flag and military personnel draped in forest green uniforms filled the cracked streets.

The Cuban military is one of the most powerful institutions in the country. President Raul has called the military "the people's partner" in numerous speeches over the last few months. Young men are required to serve at least two years in one of the six branches of military. While the country was mainly supported by the former USSR, the military began to strongly resemble that of the communist power. 

Military memorabilia displayed at the Museo de la Revolucion near our hotel in Havana. 

Being the reporters we are, Stevie and I quickly ran to capture the scene that was unfolding in-front of us. After standing at attention for a few minutes, the band hoisted their instruments and began playing a somber tune. Out from the building, a casket donning the Cuban flag was elevated on the shoulders of soldiers and marched down the stairs. The hundreds of people surrounding us did not resemble those who might be outside a military funeral in the US. Many looked on with tired eyes without so much as an ounce of sympathy for the man hidden inside the casket.

The crowds of people did not so much as glance at the action, and those who did didn't seem to care someone who had dedicated their life to their country had fallen. In the Untied States we openly thank our service men and women in every way immagionable. Bumper stickers, discounts on foods and services, and the always warm shout-outs at sporting events. Here though, the somber mood of the crowd did not seem one of sympathy for the deceased; it was more one of distance.

A synchronized tassel of arms and legs strutted along the concrete while the jeep holding the deceased crawled behind. The crowd dispursed leaving Stevie and I standing there still curious what we just watched.
Reporting from Havana, I’m Rachael Trost. 

(slideshow w/music to come)

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