Beating the Bush for Work (Part 2)

By Erasmo Calzadilla

 I went to seek work at the Lenin High School
I went to seek work at the Lenin High School

Since my friend Onel recently began working as an instructor at Lenin High School, I thought to myself what a great idea it would be to be get a job there.

Vladimir Ilich Lenin Vocational School must be the best pre-university institution the country; at least it’s the most famous.  But that wouldn’t be the only advantage of working there; I should also mention that Lenin School is close to my home, it’s near the house of Onel (who’s one of my best friend’s), and it was also the place where I studied, which made me excited at the thought of returning.

No more than entering did I run into some of my old teachers, who were pleased that I had returned, especially with the possibility of working alongside them as a colleague of theirs this time.

Everything turned out as expected: In the Human Resources Office they informed me that there were indeed openings.  So, I gave them some of the paperwork and took a few tests that I passed with no problem.  But there was still that disheartening document that I had to produce: the Summary Sheet from my file that I myself had to go get from my previous workplace – INSTEC.

Expulsion on Disciplinary Grounds.
Expulsion on Disciplinary Grounds.

I had no desire to look at the faces of those who had kicked me out on the basis of lies.  There was also a certain degree of embarrassment to be before the rest of the teachers and students, since the defamation campaign orchestrated by the rector and head of the Communist Party for the university had undoubtedly had an effect.

I didn’t want to, but I had no other choice than go to ask for my paperwork; and in it, it was easy to spot in words much larger than others “Reason for leaving the position: EXPULSION ON DISCIPLINARY GROUNDS.”

You had to see the face of the head of personnel at the Lenin School when he saw that sheet. “This is nasty!” he said to himself, and then commented to me, “We’ll have to do some checking. Call me in a couple days.”

Students at Lenin High School.
Students at Lenin High School.

That same person called me on the phone two days later saying, “Look, I talked with the university and… they said you created serious problems – serious problems.  I consulted this at the Lenin and they told me no… not under those conditions.  You can come here when you want to pick up for your documents.”

God only knows what they told him at INSTEC, but if somebody wants to know the “evil” that I committed, my sacrilege consisted of writing in this website and in giving a few university classes (posted in HT) that didn’t “emanate directly from the Central Committee of the Party,” as is specified should occur; instead; these were directed by my own way of approaching the subject of philosophy.

Note to apprehensive readers: With all this, and in all earnestness, I do not mean to imply that capitalism is better than socialism…

It is necessary to begin by discovering if socialism is the correct name for what we have in Cuba.  Nonetheless, regardless of what it’s called, I am not saying that this is better than capitalism or vice versa, nor am I denying that worse things happen under capitalism…. I am only recounting important things in my life.

4 thoughts on “Beating the Bush for Work (Part 2)

  • Erasmo, in my opinion the correct name for what you have in Cuba is dictatorship. Getting fired from a university teaching position solely because of your political beliefs would not have happened in the US or any democratic country in which there is due process and academic freedom.

    I wish you the best in your job search but fear that you may have to join the millions of other educated Cubans who’ve been labeled counter-revolutionaries and had to leave the island to pursue a better life in another country. Either that, or make the even more courageous decision to stay and try to change Cuba from within. Best wishes and good luck.

  • Erasmo, I don’t know if this will be of any use to you, but let’s see:

    Former employers In the U.S. are often reluctant to give a bad report regarding former employees. They can be sued for defamation of character, and for harming an individual’s ability to find new employment.

    It may be possible for you to sue those who have given information to prospective new employees that is detrimental. There may be an organization that will advise you or help you in this matter.

    The thing is, it is generally believed that an employer has the legal right to terminate a person’s employment–for a just reason. If the reason however was unjust, the individual may get back pay and re-hired.

    If a former employer harms someone’s chances for new employment by a bad report, it’s illegal and a suit can be successful.

    I’m not a lawyer, but this sort of unjust situation happens in the U.S. constantly. Check it out.

  • Erasmo,

    I don’t think this is about ‘socialism x capitalism’ at all – it’s this awful thing called ‘reputation assassination’.

    A friend of mine passed through such situation – he was intimidated for something that he didn’t even wrote (it was a commentary from somebody else in his blog, about a politician in Araraquara) and received the warning note not directly, but via the council of the college he teaches in. Even though my friend deleted the commentary, it appears that ‘somebody’ wants him fired.

  • I would like to hear more of your approach to teaching philosophy. On various occasions I have taught Marxist philosophy, sometimes under semi-clandestine conditions and often with a police informant in the class. The excitement of challenging not only bourgeois ideology but also our own, of seeing things in their broadest context, of turning the same tools on ourselves to understand our own socially created patterns of error, warranted the precious hours and risks. So, what has been your experience of teaching philosophy when it is a required course and when previously forbidden ideas are now the preferred ones? How do you teach constructive doubt and not lapse into cynicism? How do you use theory in a way that respects the compexity of the now without being overwhelmed by the transitory? How do you teach current ideas as an episode in the history of ideas, a mix of conservative carry-overs of the past and brilliant insights?

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