HAVANA TIMES – Hermes Hernandez Santana is 70 years old and lives in Zamora. He’s spent his entire life working the land on his farm in the Songo La Maya municipality, in Santiago de Cuba.
He lives with his older brother and a nephew, he works over 12 hours every day. He’s delivered 36 cans of coffee since last year, which is the equivalent of 9,800 Cuban pesos, but the Cuban State still hasn’t paid him.
His farm belonged to the Che Guevara de Bolaños cooperative (which has been dismantled since), and he says he traveled to the municipal capital twice, where the agricultural board is based, looking for payment for his harvest or for an explanation of what had happened, but he didn’t receive any logical explanation.
“They just told me that this form of production doesn’t have a president, or accountant and that I’d have to wait because there isn’t any skilled personnel.” Hermes says this and I leave him almost hopeless, but he’ll produce again this year, hoping that he’ll get paid for both harvests together.
Meanwhile, while this family is trying to find a way to be paid for their work, how are they living whiles they wait?
Hermes’ wife, Georgina Mustelier Ortiz, is 65 years old and her blistered hands from the hard work in the fields and her eyes dimmed by cataracts, she fell blind years ago and still isn’t receiving her pension. Her eyes are sad, they just ask for respect for what is rightfully hers and for Cuban bureaucracy to stop wreaking havoc with vulnerable Cuban families, while the government-controlled press continues to sell the propaganda story that “Cubans are guaranteed everything.”