Beating the Bush For Work (I)

By Erasmo Calzadilla

One lone job announcement: Bohemia magazine is in need of a newspaper distributor (salary 280 pesos), a warehouse supervisor (325 pesos) and a watch person (300 pesos).
One lone job announcement: Bohemia magazine is in need of a newspaper distributor (salary 280 pesos), a warehouse supervisor (325 pesos) and a watch person (300 pesos).

I have etched in my mind an image that I’ve seen a lot on TV and in the movies.  It’s one of how people look for work in those countries where those series and movies come from: the job seeker opens up a newspaper full of offers and begins circling those that might suit them.

I should clarify for any apprehensive readers that I’m quite familiar with the serious difficulties of getting work in those countries where this “sophisticated” technique of publishing vacant positions in the newspaper is applied.

I raise this right now since I’m going through that phase of having to find a new job.  This is because I was fired by the university for teaching – according to the administration – a philosophy that did not concur with the program that emanates from the Central Committee of the Communist Party (in their own words).

Presently I spend my days tramping across the city and making inquiries without finding a single opening that’s worth the while, hence my sudden recollection of those old films and those ads in the papers – particularly since such a custom barely exists here.

 There are numerous publications in Cuba but none lists job vacancies.  Photo: Caridad
There are numerous publications in Cuba but none lists job vacancies. Photo: Caridad

In Cuba, if somebody is looking for a job that’s worth it, a descent one where they pay you at least enough to survive, there are two paths: either you get in touch with all your friends – especially the powerful ones – to see if someone can get you in, or you go from door to door to each workplace asking about openings, which is the craziest approach in the world, in addition to being the most exasperating and inefficient.

I’m not one to jump to conclusions, but I now suspect that the absence of this practice of publicizing vacant positions, which would make the life of job seekers that much easier, is a situation that is promoted – or at least not combated – by the bureaucracy, perhaps to keep the best positions for themselves.

I have nothing else left to think, because I don’t believe that it’s such a difficult demand, here, where control is total, that it be mandatory for each vacant position to be published, at least at the provincial level, before being filled by anyone.  It’s not that there is insufficient paper and resources, because we already even have publications with the programming of cinemas and theaters.

To be fair, I admit that neighborhood social workers do indeed find positions for the unemployed, but from what I’ve been able to witness with my very own eyes, these are the kinds of jobs that absolutely no one wants to take.


6 thoughts on “Beating the Bush For Work (I)

  • Erasmo,
    Perhaps, like Plato and Socrates, you should found your own school, even if its first “classroom” is benneath the sheltering branches of a banyon tree. With any luck, it could last as long as the Academy (900 years+/-)! It is a sorry state when true philosophy is cast out to bitter exile. Then again, this is philosophy’s natural state. Just look what happened to Socrates. It has been said, however, that when history repeats itself, the first time is a tragedy, the second a comedy. In the end, the educrats who remain at the University are sychopatic clowns; they are rich material for a satirist up to the task of turning their pathetic performance into low comedy. P.S. If you do set up shop benneath a banyobn tree, watch out! I was once in deep thought benneath the Banyon at the entrance of La Cabanana when, PLOP!, a feathered friend above let loose on me! Undoubtedly, he traced his lineage from Aristophanes’s “The Birds!”.

  • Posting job vacancies in newspapers is a rather outdated practice at least in Canada. These days online job banks and listservs are much more widely used. As an example, here’s a link to the Canada Jobs Bank sponsored by the federal government:

    In Canada, most organizations require vacant positions to be publicly advertised. It’s just good human resources practice to make sure the most qualified candidates apply. This is not to diminish the importance of informal networking. All other things being equal, employers will generally hire someone they know with a proven track record over someone they don’t know.

    Erasmo, best wishes with your job search. Is the position in Chile you wrote about earlier still a possibility?

  • Jobs offered at newspapers classifieds are usually those that ‘absolutely no one wants to take’, the ones that pay the less.

    The strategy you describe for ‘getting decent jobs’ is common practice everywhere.

  • Erasmo, I can’t speak to the why or the justice of your firing from the university, but your losing your job and your frustrating job search is heart-breaking. Those of us living in capitalist countries know your pain.

    In the original socialist movement–mid-1800s–workers were oppressed by the absence of work. One of the most attractive arguments for socialism was that unemployment would not exist in a socialist economy. B/c people needed useful things in order to live, there would be plenty of work for everyone. Then a strange thing happened.

    Marx’s Manifesto “changed” socialism from direct worker cooperative ownership of enterprise. Original cooperative socialism was displaced by this new idea of 100% ownership of everything by the state. The countries that later tried his formula made everyone employees of the government. Each country, thus far, failed–except for Cuba.

    Can Cuba go to full-employment cooperative socialism and end unemployment?

  • I have compassion for those who are pushed out of their positions due to political ideology. Enjoy your new career as a construction worker.

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