Alejandro, a Young Cuban Worker

Cuban students. Photo: Juan Suárez

HAVANA TIMES – Youth is a constant state of euphoria. Generally, it is the parents who bear the burden and worries. The most important thing is to be able to endure and have someone to support us. In this case, I rely on my son, who is practically supporting the family at the moment.

On the contrary, many young people are supported by their parents. Most of their parents don’t have enough money to provide them with good food. The streets are tough, survival is the true main dish.

I know young people who have had to abandon their studies to start working. Some in restaurants and cafes, or other private businesses.

Alejandro, a neighborhood friend, first started working at a pizzeria, now he’s unloading goods at a private business, and sometimes selling. He is saving to buy a motorcycle, but he still sees that dream as too distant.

He used to come visit us frequently, spending hours in my son’s room playing PlayStation. He even ate here if it got late. But now, he gets home exhausted, showers, eats, puts on a movie, and falls asleep immediately.

He doesn’t even try to find a girlfriend to go out with, because he says the girls only think about expensive outings. He argues that almost all the girls he’s met recently expect to have a boyfriend with a wallet bursting with money. So, he prefers to go out alone, or with his friends.

He has gone through moments of great tension, when his grandfather passed away, and he had to take care of the funeral because his mother was devastated by the loss. Then there was his parents’ divorce. Trying to get along with each of them, as each wanted to defend their point of view and he was caught in the middle of that madness.

His real long-term plan is to leave the country, as he’s been waiting for the parole his aunt put in place for him months ago, which has yet to arrive. When he arrives in the United States, he will have to start from scratch. The positive thing is that he is 23 years old and has a purpose to achieve.

On Sundays, he reads the Bible or attends mass. It turns out that he has even become a believer. He says he was baptized as a child, but never set foot in a church again. Now he occasionally goes to the San Juan de Letran Church with his cousin.

The beauty and tranquility of the place left him impressed the first time he visited. The masses and religious commemorations there are memorable. He has told me that his faith has gained meaning.

His perseverance and faith have reminded me of the philosophy of Saint Francis of Assisi, who said: “Start by doing what is necessary; then do what is possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”

Read more from Irina Pino’s diary here.

2 thoughts on “Alejandro, a Young Cuban Worker

  • Stephen correctly explains why it is that life today for the average Cuban, can be described in one word.


    From the start of the Russian revolution, until the implosion of the communist system, took 72 years! Cuba has reached 65!

  • “Eloisa, a Cuban Representing Many Retirees” and “Alejandro, a Young Cuban Worker” are two insightful articles explaining in vivid detail the extreme hardships Cuban retirees and Cuban youth face on a daily basis in Cuba today.

    There is no easy way out for any Cuban living in Cuba presently. Eloísa, the retiree represents Cubans who have worked all their lives contributing to their communities, contributing to their country and what do they receive at the end of their working lives: unbearable misery via magnified poverty.

    Imagine the thought of trying to live on a measly retirement remuneration of roughly $5.00 American dollars per month. The obvious thoughtful image is one cannot live decently, yet in Cuba one must. Rummaging through garbage, limiting one’s diet, begging on city streets all these demeaning actions are done just to try and survive to the next excruciating day of the same existence.

    At the other end of the age spectrum are Cuba’s youth, such as Alejandro. Youth, as Irina points out, is the time for enjoying the exuberance youthfulness has to offer. Not so in Cuba. For the majority of young Cubans life is tough – clearly an understatement.

    From lack of proper nutritious food to lack of future monetary and fulfilling opportunities, Irina points out the significant problems. She writes: “Most of their parents don’t have enough money to provide them with good food. The streets are tough, survival is the true main dish.”

    How many youth growing up in Western countries must consider emigrating in order to survive? Cuban youth, schooled by their parents and grandparents, know full well the alternative is Eloísa’s sad story, if they decide not to leave. That scenario is something that spurs a great number of Cuban youth to implement plans for an early departure.

    At the end what is left in Cuba but those poor poverty stricken retirees who cannot leave. One would think the Cuban government who must eventually deal with this impending crisis would put plans in place to remedy this sad situation.

    Two excellent articles demonstrating Cuba’s existing existential people problems.

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