Jimmy Roque Martinez

May Day in Cuba in 2014.

HAVANA TIMES – Two weeks before May 1st, one could already see people working in the vicinity of Havana’s Revolution Square as part of the preparations for International Workers’ Day. The orchestra was rehearsing, the audio system was being checked, banners were being painted and signs were being posted.

Large numbers of people gather daily at the National Theater located in front of the Square to organize the May Day rally. They are all military. I also see many Ministry of the Interior (MININT) officials and many young men in civilian clothing working under them.

The island’s repressive apparatus is tasked with “guiding and offering support” to the obedient and servile Cuban Workers Union (CTC). The presence of MININT officials, working in total harmony with the workers’ union, attests to the age-old, farcical nature of the rally.

In view of this, this May 1st, my demands as a worker will be:

  1. To dissolve the current Cuban Workers Union. We must decentralize and create real trade unions that members can join of their own free will, without any kind of pressure to join these associations. Currently, membership is only nominally voluntary, but not joining the union has costs that I’ve personally had to pay.
  2. Full freedom of thought and expression for workers.
  3. The real right to obtain and remain at a job, regardless of one’s political stance (a right that was stricken from the current legislation).
  4. Employers and employees cannot belong to the same union – this is an entirely absurd situation found in Cuba today.
  5. Workers must have decision-making prerogatives at their companies and total access to their accounts.
  6. Authorize the creation of real and autonomous cooperatives.
  7. The financial benefits secured through ones work must be enough to afford workers a decorous life, for themselves and their families. We cannot allow the State to continue stealing from worker salaries, as is the case in the Mariel Special Development Zone.
  8. Wage labor – which offers the immense majority of workers measly salaries anyways, while certain elites continue to enjoy privileges – must disappear. Privileges for the military, leaders and government officials must disappear.
  9. The right to strike must be legalized.
  10. Employment ought to be a right – this was eliminated from the current Labor Code.
  11. We cannot allow a non-State worker to be granted a mere 7 days of vacation every year. Official forms of socialist work exploitation should not be given additional legal support.
  12. Contract work abroad should not continue to be used as a reward to pressure workers into certain commitments.
  13. Pensions should be enough for retired workers to live on. We must not continue to see elderly people living in extreme poverty or rummaging through garbage bins in search of cans they can re-sell and buy food with.
  14. The retirement age should be lowered and the work day reduced. We cannot allow them to demand that we produce more in order to improve the country’s economy. We have already produced and put up with enough.
  15. We must not allow administrative and trade union leaders to continue to blame the working class for the country’s failures and disasters. The disaster stems chiefly from the State’s inefficient administration. What’s more, the State should not exist, not in Cuba or anywhere else in the world, for it has always been and will always be the people’s main enemy.

When we make all of this a reality, some may have cause for celebration. Not all, as there will always remain work to be done. Freedom will always seem too restrictive to us.


Jimmy Roque Martinez

Jimmy Roque Martinez: I was born in Havana in 1979, and it seems that work has been my sign. Custodian, fish farmer, lens carver, welder, glass maker, optometrist, have been some of my trades. But none consumes as much of my time as caring for my family. For many years I’ve faced the least pretty face of this society, and I try to be happy while I transform it. I am too shy. I like silence, sleep, theater and movies. I hate injustice and arrogance, and I can hardly contain my anger when it happens in front of me.

36 thoughts on “A Cuban’s May Day Demands

  • rodrigvm;

    I’m not so sure there’s a difference between the terms “stupid” and “socialist”…. as your posts supportive of the current Cuban regime would seem to more than indicate.

    BTW, you’ve been “pushed to the wall” as a union member, have ya’? [smile…yeah, right!]. Sorry, Sport, but just because you’re a loser and can’t make your way on your own in this world does NOT mean that you’re being “pushed to the wall”. Instead, it indicates that you just collapsed against it…and it, along with other, more contributory, elements of society are what’s supporting you.

    On the other, maybe you’re right. After all, there are just MULTITUDES of U.S. citizens anxious to renounce their citizenship and move to that workers paradise of Cuba, aren’t there? [grin!]

    Finally, in terms of the “embargo”, tell the Castro brothers to return all the American property they confiscated, and THEN talk to this country about ending it. Until then, me thinks thieves ought to be dealt with in terms of what they are; i.e. – “thieves”.

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