Social Service (II)

Francisco Castro

Havana is a magnet for many Cubans living in the eastern provinces.  Photo: Ana Maria Gonzalez
Havana is a magnet for many Cubans from the eastern provinces. Photo: Ana Maria Gonzalez

On the day of the job-placement meeting for future audiovisual communication graduates, I had expected they’d assign me to some TV or radio station back in my hometown of Santiago de Cuba.   So I was left with my jaw hanging when they gave me the news that I would be assigned to Radio Progreso, a prestigious national radio station located in Havana.

A question immediately crossed my mind:  Had I already obtained my change of address?  No I hadn’t.  I had had no way of obtaining a job placement in the capital, and -though I dearly wanted it- I hadn’t done anything to arrange this.

I had no contact that could have made the change, because as of April 22, 1997, Ordinance 217 on Regulations on Internal Migration to the City of Havana had come into effect.  According to this law, one’s housing situation must meet a series of requirements to be able to make a permanent move to the capital, requirements that my family here doesn’t meet.

I had considered other options, though all involved under the table money – a lot of money for me.

I could have paid from 40 to 60 CUCs (about $50-$75 USD) to get my address changed to a house located in Havana Province, thereby allowing me to work in the City of Havana.

Another way would be to pay up to 100 CUCs to get the change of address for a house in the city.

Another approach is to pay 60 CUC for somebody to doctor the records.  They can get my name erased from the Address Registry and issue me a new ID card with a Havana address.  Though this would put me in a kind of a legal limbo -an option that made my blood run cold- I figured it would be the easiest to carry out.

Fortunately, on June 29, 2009 a new law was published in the Official Gazette.  In it is a chapter dedicated to “exceptional contracts,” whereby workers from other provinces can be hired to work in the capital.   This requires formal authorization by managers of agencies, offices or ministries of the central government or other national entities, as well as the president of the Provincial Administrative Council of the City of Havana.

This law forced me to spend some of the money that I had already begun saving to pay for an address change, and which gave me tremendous joy that perhaps other truly liberating changes are on the country’s horizon.