Fanning Frustration

By Daisy Valera

Havana Scene.  Photo: Elio Delgado
Havana Scene. Photo: Elio Delgado

Cuban summer is practically eternal.  Now should be the beginning of autumn, but the tropical sun continues to beat down relentlessly.  Unfortunately, summer here -with its 90-plus degree heat and humidity- cannot be seen as only one season of the year.

After you’ve taken a bus or walked at least five blocks, you can begin see how the Caribbean climate is also an economic problem.

After your clothes have become drenched in sweat, you’re ready to upend a quart of soda pop, but what’s even more draining is that they charge two pesos a glass.

The need for something to drink persists throughout the day, therefore almost daily I get home after having spent ten pesos on Kool-Aid or pop.

Up to this point the situation is tolerable, to a certain degree.  But if your fan happens to break down in this wondrous climate, everything becomes more embroiling; you’re forced to decide between not sleeping and paying the exorbitant price quoted by a self-employed electrician.

My fan died a week ago, and since I couldn’t get to sleep for two nights in a row, I decided to get it fixed.

I went to a state-run repair shop, a place where they offer different services – like watch repairs, cigarette lighter refills and fixing domestic appliances.

After looking at my fan, the first phrase the electrician uttered was that they didn’t have the spare part needed because the State provides almost none of those.

He did however suggest an alternative; he knew of a place where they could get me the needed part…for a mere 100 pesos; that’s to say almost half the monthly minimum take-home wage in Cuba.

To avoid having to spend yet another sleepless night, I gave in to the extortion.

But since I couldn’t stop thinking about this, a whole series of questions and doubts came to mind.

For example, if there are people in the street who provide the parts needed to repair of household goods, this means that the odd-jobbers are getting those components from somewhere, most likely from some state-run business or workshop.

Likewise, I also can’t understand why electrician cooperatives haven’t been set up so that, with State aid in obtaining the parts, they could reduce the price of repair work.

What me happened to me could also happen to anyone in need of a plumber, a bricklayer and even a carpenter.

These are occupations that have not been given their do importance and the number of such skilled workers is highly deficient in Cuba.

Every day, fewer people go into these types of trades, and our society is suffering the consequences: high prices and shakedowns.

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.

2 thoughts on “Fanning Frustration

  • . . . every revolutionary state that has applied it, the party and government bureaucrats still cling to these principles.

    The socialist movement originally was cooperative. It was not against private property and the market. It was for employees to become the owners of their enterprises. In such a situation managers become co-employees along with everyone else, and bureaucrats do not exist.

    Marxian principles changed all that. This is why an electricians’ cooperative is not set up to provide spare parts and better repair services. To do so would presume private, direct ownership share by working electricians.

    The bourgeois Marx and his capitalist “friend” Engels came into the socialist movement and switched it over to the dysfunctional concept of the state owning everything in sight and making every a state employee. (Very suspicious!)

    The answer of course is to jettison Marxism and advance to a modern cooperative socialist republic. This is the only route to reform.

  • Daisy, you said “I can’t understand why electrician cooperatives haven’t been set up, so that . . . ” As a modern cooperative socialist in the U.S. trying to achieve a Cooperative Republic in the future, plz let me address this question.

    Yours is a “state-socialist” republic. This means that your state owns everything productive. Private property and the market have been displaced by bureaucrat planning and administration. This is in accordance with the principles for socialism set forth by Marx in 1848 in the Communist Manifesto.

    It took several decades after 1848, but eventually the socialist movement became dominated by this absurd “recipe” for socialism. These silly principles of a bourgeois dilettante became like holy scripture, and Marx became an infallible god.

    This has been a great misfortune. It converted the vibrant socialist movement into something resembling a religious cult. Even after Marx’s recipe has been shown to be bogus by destroying . . .

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