Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Stars and Stripes the Rage among the Youth of Cuba but Communist Regime Frowns on US Flag Fashion

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Stars and Stripes the Rage among the Youth of Cuba but Communist Regime Frowns on US Flag Fashion

Article excerpt

Slapping down a net-skimming serve on a makeshift volleyball court in central Havana, two young Cubans in bandannas patterned after the American flag exchange high-fives at their triumph.

At Santa Maria beach, women in one- and two-piece bathing suits fashioned out of the Stars and Stripes frolic in the waves.

The irony of Old Glory gracing the Communist island's beaches is not lost on the caretakers of Cuban ideology. Recently Cuba's Union of Young Communists (UJC), the youth elite of the country's governing Communist Party, issued a "recommendation" to young Cubans that they should refrain from wearing anything depicting the flag or any other symbols of their country's archenemy, the "imperialist" United States. The recommendation - which has been taken seriously enough by some police for them to bar entrance to public venues or patriotic events to youths sporting the American flag - reflects a growing worry among Cuban leaders about the younger generation. They fear the country's youths are discarding, or failing to develop, the Cuban revolution's brand of communist ideology. "Our concern is that these young people {wearing the American flag} are falling into the trap of enemy propaganda," says Juan Carlos Frometa, the Americas coordinator of the UJC's international section. "The message is that this flag is something innocuous ... but we have to remember it stands for the principal enemy of the Cuban revolution." "We have more than enough symbols for our youths to take pride in," Mr. Frometa says. "If they want a T-shirt of the Cuban flag, those exist." Yet all of the American-flag-wearing youths questioned emphasized the same two points about the issue: First, that it's a "fashion" that has little or nothing to do with politics for them; and that they indeed feel very little interest for any ideology. …

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