By ANITA SNOW – Associated Press – December 20, 2008
HAVANA (AP) _ In the palace of a fallen dictator, the grade-school kids in their red Communist Pioneer bandanas are getting their mandatory introduction to the glories of the revolution.
Clattering from one display case to the next, they gaze wide-eyed at an antique gun, a fighter’s bloodied shirt, the engine of a downed U.S. spy plane. Moving on, they stare at the yacht named Granma that carried Fidel Castro back from exile to launch his guerrilla war, and the combat boots his brother-successor wore as a ponytailed 27-year-old rebel.
The palace of Fulgencio Batista, the ruler whom Castro overthrew, is now the Museum of the Revolution, and these 6- and 7-year-olds are the heirs to a communist government about to turn 50 _ a system that may be softening at the edges but appears determined to crush any threat to its grip on power, lest it crumble like its one-time godfather, the Soviet Union.