Daisy Valera

The Sixth Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC) concluded a few months ago, but people still have ideas to contribute as well as suggestions and concerns that need to be continually shared, whether such individuals are in line at a bakery or at a bus stop.

The congress was not the balm that healed the economic wounds of the last couple decades. It was more like the same old pill demanding additional effort and sacrifice.

It’s only that now — without subsidized toiletries, with the ration book bidding us farewell, and growing numbers of the unemployed — that pill is going to be more difficult to swallow.

All bets are being placed on private initiatives, once viewed so judgmentally but now accepted as necessary and inevitable.

It’s in this context that the word “control” appears, plaguing conversations and the pages of newspapers.

I then noted that over these past 50 years of what has been called a “socialist” system, we Cubans have adopted various theories about control and how things should be controlled.

The leader’s role

One of the most widespread theories is that a leader (a member of the PCC in the overwhelming majority of cases) plays the fundamental role.

According to a not insignificant number of Cubans (from my point of view), control over workers should be the responsibility of those who manage.

This boss should be the one in charge of demanding punctuality, discipline, the fulfillment of objectives and more.

Conclusions: the job of managers consists of guaranteeing that wage earners work. To achieve this, they receive salaries above those of their employees and they enjoy better working conditions (air conditioning, a car and perhaps even trips abroad).

Sanctions and firings

It’s not unusual to hear that everything in this country would be solved if loafers were sanctioned or fired from their jobs.

It seems that some people have forgotten that transportation is terrible, making it difficult for workers to make it to their jobs on time. Plus, all stores and agro-markets are only open during working hours. Therefore not arriving to work on time or being forced to skip out of necessity turns you into poorly behaving, undisciplined worker – subjecting you to the mercy of your boss.

It also seems that some people have the gall to think that when someone “steals” from their job, they’re not doing it out of necessity or because of their low wages, but to get some cheap thrill or because they romanticize being a thief.

I think that when the workers “steal” from their workplaces, they’re only taking a part of the wage they’re not paid. It’s the only way possible for them to be compensated for their labor, the only commodity that workers possess.

An alternative

Everything indicates that some ideas (Marxists?) on this island have been tossed into the garbage despite the possibility of these being useful in addressing complaints about idlers, ultra-conservatives and bureaucrats.

Some of these could be:

– Workers electing their representatives at each workplace, with the ability for those same workers to revoke those elected at any moment to prevent the monopolizing of power and benefits.
– The rotation of workers in different activities of the workplace to prevent the alienation that is produced by work when it doesn’t include creative processes.
– The design of working plans by the collective instead of these being imposed by higher authorities.
– Control of intellectual and material production by the workers themselves.

We do not have to forever continue on with the methods of control handed down to us by capitalism and perfected under Stalinism. We Cuban workers must become our own bosses and work towards the objective of being less exploited every day.


Daisy Valera

Daisy Valera:Soil scientist and blogger. I write from Mexico City, where Havana sometimes becomes so small that it disappears. However in others, the Cuban capital is a city so past and present that it steals your breath.

16 thoughts on “Control Cuban Style

  • This is hilarious with Goodrich and Grady calling themselves compañeros for a second I thought I was back in Cuba.

    What a horror!

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