Unemployed at 25 in Cuba

Daisy Valera

HAVANA TIMES — I’ll turn 25 on January 7, but I’m not going to stop here to list my achievements or my frustrations.

I was born in 1988, so I belong to neither the generation that enjoyed the benefits of the Soviet bloc nor the one that grew up breathing the fresh air of change in the ‘90s.

And even less was I one of those who in the ‘60s and ‘70s were peons in the construction of “something.”

As the children of the Special Period crisis and of the 2000s, we learned not to expect good news. For us the word “future” isn’t much more than part of a phrase repeated ad nauseum.

We follow the dynamic of the grand wheel of survival…where there’s very little time to think about anything except a piece of meat, a pair of shoes or a tube of toothpaste.

I think we confuse optimism with stupidity, and I believe we’ve learned to shelve or shred our dreams.

For things to go a little better for us, they recommend that we talk in low voices and walk on our tiptoes – though I’ve turned out too awkward.

So, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that my birthday will be spent in one of the offices of the Ministry of Science.

I’ll be trying to talk to a secretary who will be looking at me with disdain and even anger.

Now I’m just another one of the unemployed.

They went through my emails — and my rare moments on the Internet — and managed to fire me based on trivial computer regulations.

I’m an “undisciplined”. They could forgive me if I spent five out of my eight hours a day watching movies, chatting or discovering what exercises to do to get rid of cellulite.

But looking for information about Cuba, or writing and discussing that topic is too much; it’s a serious act of “indiscipline.”

To get reassigned, I’ll have to deal with the same people who one year and nine months ago told me that, although I was a nuclear chemist, I couldn’t work in any research capacity given my “characteristics.”

Those “characteristics” are nothing other than writing on this webpage about thing of interest to me or that cause me to worry about my country. Unforgivable.

I expect perhaps months of unemployment, running from one ministry to another, noting how the functionaries avoid me and invent implausible excuses, repeated a hundred times: “Come back tomorrow to see if we can take care of your problem.”

I have a year and three months to complete my post-university social service obligation, and the Ministry of Science is obligated to assign me to a job.

But then what?

My work record says more than any employing supervisor wants to hear.

My current situation is a warning and a vision of the future.

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.

Daisy Valera has 208 posts and counting. See all posts by Daisy Valera

19 thoughts on “Unemployed at 25 in Cuba

  • you are a dreamer, my email is controlled, my phone is bug and I live in a free America, the Patriot Act has given the government this Authority, please do not kid yourself. Daisy seems to me a good girl, this is my personal opinion, but she has to learn to go with the flow!

  • Let’s see:

    You affirmed that Cuban intelligence agencies monitored her university e-mail, well what she writes here is public. So she doesn’t fit the ‘profile’ required as I said in my very first comment. You and Moses then came to try to portray myself as ignorant.

    You came with straw-man fallacies to distort what I said – the ‘thoughtless sheep’ are universal. By the way the very first one to mention the specific situation in Canada was you, so if the arguing went ‘out-of-topic’ it was by your own initiative, not mine.

    You argued about an Orwellian reality in Cuba. I responded we share academic, employment, military service and criminal records with Cubans. The only difference in Cuba are the CDR reports – and I’m yet to see a view on the social role of the CDR’s (back then when they were created and now) that isn’t simply propaganda, from both ‘sides’.

    You talked about that a Canadian employee may have his e-mail monitored, but only with a search warrant. I proved you wrong.

    You said that Canadian employers are only interested in protecting their intellectual property and business operations when adopting surveillance technology. I proved you wrong yet again.

    So only fool here is you. You are like the Black Knight from Monty Python and the Holy Grail movie – left without both arms and legs and pathetically insisting on fighting.

    Give up Griffin, you prove to be unworthy of debating with me.

  • Luis,

    You say I “simply forced” you to write off-topic nonsense? Oh dear, my bad. I’ll try not to make a fool of you again.


  • Moses,

    I wonder why every topic presented you tell us you did something like that as an authority argument, like you were a ‘good boss’ right now. You say you couldn’t afford to lose a professional when in reality there are many out there that could take his place – the ‘reserve army of labor’ as Marx liked to call it. This is one of the reasons full employment cannot take place in a capitalist economy – not even in the most advanced ones – there must be a margin of ‘moveable’ workforce to satisfy the employers demands as they see fit. You talk like if employers didn’t look after the reasons behind one worker quit or got fired in a previous job in their resume. They do. Anyway, what there’s ‘simply no comparison’ is between Cuba today and Stalinist Russia, as you and your propagandist friend like to portray, like if it was by Raul Castro’s direct orders that she lost her job when you said Daisy ‘suffered at the hands of the Castros’. By the way, you didn’t write a single word about the Patriot Act. And stop pretending you are a Democrat.


    You are right, this topic is not about Canada at all. So much that in my first post I didn’t mention anything like that: you simply forced me to offer an perspective of what happens in the business world regarding privacy, and failed to reply to my arguments, thus whining about a change in topic that didn’t occur: we are still talking about the same subject. Those ‘imaginary evils’ you talk about are not imaginary at all – you are the one who look at reality as if there were an imaginary Heaven outside Cuba and an imaginary Hell inside it. And that’s simply not true.

  • Luis,

    This thread is about Cuba and how Daisy got blacklisted. It’s not about a Canada, as hard as you might try. What you are engaged in is a ploy of distraction. Rather than discuss the situation in Cuba, you rant at perceived, and imaginary, evils elsewhere. These primitive defensive mechanisms you employ; distraction, displacement, splitting and projection, are as transparent as they are childish.

  • You talk like if we didn’t have employment, military service or police records also. The one in denial is you.

    For you, all Canadian employers would only sniff their employees messages to ‘protect intellectual property’ and such, unlike the assholes who fired Daisy. They don’t need a search warrant for that – reading further:


    “This means informing employees they are being monitored is still important, even if not strictly required by law.”

    You fall into the childish approach that ‘Cuba is evil’ and that ugly things don’t happen in your Wonderland, which simply isn’t true:


    “Even if employers initially install the technologies for different purposes, they have surveillance capabilities that can be detrimental to employee privacy, said Avner Levin, coordinator of the law area at Ryerson University’s business faculty.

    In a recent case in Highlands East, Ont., hidden video cameras installed for security surveillance caught volunteer firefighters drinking beer. The fire station’s commander was fired.

    “The issue here is the function creep of these technologies as they are introduced for one purpose and used for another,” said Levin.”

    In the US, things are even worse, with the Patriot Act:


    “Even where the protections remain under the ECPA, emails lose their status as a protected communication in 180 days, which means a warrant is no longer necessary and your emails can be accessed by a simple subpoena.

    This is what I meant by ‘ignoring reality’, which you and Moses insist doing on a regular basis.

  • Until a few years ago I was a co-owner of a successful silicon valley technology firm. We were ultimately bought out by a larger competitor. As an owner, we hired an independent security firm to monitor emails for key words which would imply intellectual property theft and/or corporate espionage. If these words popped up, the security firm would read the email and advise us if they believed further investigation was necessary. Matters related to employee personal lives or political preferences were of no interest to us so we made no effort review those types of emails. As you said, all of this is perfectly legal. Luis, surely you are not comparing this kind of corporate snooping to what Daisy has suffered at the hands of the Castros. Moreover, even if we did choose to fire someone simply because they voted Republican (god forbid!), a talented employee could simply walk across the street, resume in hand, and go to work for our competition. We coud not prevent them from working anywhere else. There is simply no comparison between the Stalinist-type surveillance in Cuba and what takes place in the US and I dare say Canada or your country Brazil. Finally, the Cuban government REALLY does maintain a file on every citizen. What’s worse are the unsolicited letters included in personal files from the CDR president who lives on your block and FEU representative at your University and other “connected” Cubans, most often without your knowledge or review. What happens is that when you apply for a job or an educational opportunity and then, without explanation, you are told no, it is likely because of a libelous letter in your file.The Castros love this kind of shadowy recordkeeping as it fuels the ever-present paranoia common to Cubans. Sorry to burst your bubble.

  • Luis,

    The Cuban authorities do indeed keep files on every citizen, beginning with their school reports, and including the reports from the CDR’s, their military service records, their employment history and any police reports they may have picked up along the way. Either you are ignorant of this fact, or you are in denial.

    A Canadian employee may have his email monitored by their employer, but not by the police withiut a search warrant. The quote you supplied specifically mentioned the employer records may not be turned over to any other body or made public. The employer is not interested in their workers’ political views, but in protecting their intellectual property and business operations.

    That is a very different thing than Daisy experienced where her emails from university were monitored, assessed for political content and then held against her to deny her employment. Daisy wrote above how this problem with her ‘characteristics’ was explained to her in the offices of the Ministry of Sciences who are responsible for assigning her a job. She cannot get a job in her field unless the government assigns her one. They are refusing to do so because she has been revealed as “politically unreliable”.

    That is the topic of this thread. Not what you think the situation in Canada is.

  • By the way, you fail to interpret the topic – again. There’s no talk of intelligence agencies/services monitoring e-mail, but companies monitoring their employees work e-mail.

    Apparently, this is legal:


    If you really are Canadian, you should’ve known better:


    “Employee privacy is governed in Canada by the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act or PIPEDA. The Act is designed to protect employee information from being leaked outside the company, not from scrutiny by their managers.

    Because a company owns the computers employees use, it’s within its rights to access the data, notes James Quin, senior research analyst at Info-Tech Research Group, a London, Ont.-based analyst firm.”

  • What’s the point of your constant propaganda? Why do you say Cuba is like Stalinist Russia for goodness’ sake? This idea that the government keeps a ‘file’ for each Cuban citizen and watches every move they make and record their steps on it is simply Orwellian foolishness.

    And again, stop the straw man – I’m not saying any of those things. If you care, I say all this is a characteristic of the boss/employee work relationship – one that ‘real socialism’ was unable to surpass.

    You don’t seem to be from Canada at all – I guess Lawrence W was right after all.

  • What is the point of your constant sniping?

    Are you saying that things are worse in Brazil, Canada or the US, therefore Cuba is not so bad?
    Are you saying that things are worse in Brazil, Canada or the US, therefore nothing like this happens in Cuba?
    Are you saying that things are worse in Brazil, Canada or the US, therefore it’s ok that Cuba is worse?

    By the way, I’m in a union. My political views are nobody’s business by my own. The RCMP and CSIS don’t monitor my email. No way is the situation in Canada even remotely comparable to that in Cuba.

    The Cuban authorities monitored Daisy’s email. They didn’t like what she wrote. This has gone down in her personnel file, a file which the gov’t keeps on each and every Cuban. She has been deemed to have a problem with her “political characteristics”. That is why she is unemployed.

  • Happy, Happy, Happy Birthday, Daisy!

    Perhaps your period of involuntary unemployment may turn out to be a blessing in disguise! Who knows; you might wind up making more money as a cooperative entrepreneur.

    We have a saying in English — Living well is the best revenge.

  • And you choose to ignore reality, as if superiors in your or my country didn’t keep a keen eye on their employee’s behavior – specially if they play a important role in a worker’s union.

    Your meritocracy system is only but a lie – the ones who lick their bosses’ balls are most likely to ‘succeed’ in their careers than the ones who are highly skilled but don’t fit the desired ‘profile’ of a thoughtless sheep.

  • Happy birthday, Daisy.

    My birthday wish for you on this special day is as follows:

    “May your day be filled with blessings
    Like the sun that lights the sky,
    And may you always have the courage
    To spread your wings and fly!”
    (an Irish blessing)

    God bless you and take care.

  • Feliz cumple años Daisy.Y mucha suerte para el nuevo año.Que venga en tu camino salud, dinero y mucho amor. Viva Cuba libre.

  • You talk like if nobody else has to ‘stay put’ in their jobs in order *not* to get fired.

    Get a grip. And something called perspective.

  • Luis, either you did not read what she wrote or you are trying to ignore the reason Daisy is unemployed. She has been put on the “available” list because of her politics. I have no idea how qualified she is as a nuclear chemist. She seems to believe that her professional qualifications are not the reason she is unemployed. I choose to believe her. Please tell me how you can support a system that places one’s political views over one’s professional skills? I can’t imagine a successful company in my country that would fire someone because they did or did not vote for Obama. Does this happen in Brazil? What difference should it make if you support Rousseff or not as long as you are competent in your job? The Castros are so absurdly concerned about controlling what Cubans may say and even think that Daisy’s situation is not isolated or hardly unique. How many well-qualified professionals are out of work in Cuba now or afraid of losing their jobs because they do not support the failed Castro regime? If this is what socialism and the New Man means, I want no parts of it.

  • Did you miss the part where she gave the reason she is unemployed?

    “They went through my emails — and my rare moments on the Internet — and managed to fire me based on trivial computer regulations.

    I’m an “undisciplined”. …looking for information about Cuba, or writing and discussing that topic is too much; it’s a serious act of “indiscipline.” …To get reassigned, I’ll have to deal with the same people who one year and nine months ago told me that, although I was a nuclear chemist, I couldn’t work in any research capacity given my “characteristics.” ”

    Daisy has been blacklisted by the regime as a bad character because of her writing here at Havana Times. The political police are getting even. Viva la Revolucion!

  • “I expect perhaps months of unemployment”

    Be cool Daisy, some people expect years.

    I remember the days you were writing while still studying. Clearly you were much happier then. To face the grim reality of unfriendly people expecting you to fit in this or that ‘profile’ when struggling for a good job is a thing we don’t care much about, or pay little attention, when we are still in school. I was like that too.

    Cheers, and good luck!

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