Jorge Milanés Despaigne
HAVANA TIMES – Mateo repairs old “Aurika” model Russian washing machines. Impelled by the need to better his economic situation, he has earned his living this way since he first arrived in Havana.
At first he worked clandestinely, but when the new economic policies went into effect, he obtained his self-employment license.
He’s doing very well now and can barely keep up with his clientele.
“A few days ago, a company contracted with me to repair seven old commercial washing machines for a very tempting sum in CUCs (Cuban hard currency). It was the first time that I had faced this type of technology, but I accepted anyway.”
In fifteen days, with a lot of work, he got all the machines to function. Seeing that, they offered him a permanent job maintaining the company’s other machines, located in different establishments all over the province.
But he hasn’t decided yet. When he gets home, he begins to enumerate the pros and cons of this change.
“I like my current work; I feel free and daring in it. Although right now I have a lot of work, there’s nothing that can equal the feeling of taking my bike off to work, feeling that I’m free, and can go back home whenever I want.
“Also, and most importantly, are the jobs that I do every month for free for the elderly who don’t have any way to pay for their repair work – not only their washing machines, but also other appliances. That brings me prestige in the community and a certain level of satisfaction. What do you suggest I do?”
I felt proud conversing with someone with such a high level of humanity. It would be wonderful if other people with businesses did the same.
“I know that having secure employment is important, but what you have been doing is, too,” I told him. “I think that you should negotiate with the company to find a compromise between your own independent work and theirs, if that’s what you want. If not, then stay wherever you feel the best.”