Looking for Alternatives

Joven Club, the computer of the family.

By Lien Estada

HAVANA TIMES – I don’t have a computer at the moment, so I decided to rely on the Joven Computer Club, which are state-run computer labs available for public use. I need to review and organize my information and get some work done.

First, I went to the one in my community on 8th Street in Holguín. They told me they didn’t have any machines and advised me to go to the central location. I thanked them and went to one that is closer to me than the central, on Victoria Street. They told me they had machines, but all of them were broken. Service was impossible.

I then had to go to the central location on Maceo Street. I found a line outside and took my place. However, I noticed that people in line were talking a lot about documents, so I decided to go in and ask. It turned out they were not offering computer services. They explained that at that time, they were functioning as a civil registry. For the past month and a half, the people responsible for the programming work in Havana, where all the machines belonging to the Joven Clubs in the country are connected, had left Cuba. It wasn’t just a problem in Holguín; it was a national issue. I had assumed that since the schedule was still posted on the door, there were no issues accessing the services. But I was wrong. Once again, I was wrong and had to learn to ask first before assuming. I thanked them and left.

Frankly, it’s not just the Joven Computer Club that is dealing with this problem. Many services are not being provided because they lack workers. The exodus is massive and has a huge impact, although the government media tries to make it invisible. It’s possible for the water collector to come and charge you hundreds of pesos in one day because they haven’t collected for months, precisely for the same reason: there were no workers to do this job.

If you go to a printing shop to order your cards that you previously got without much hassle, you now find that the person who used to serve you is already in the United States and that service is no longer offered for several reasons.

This is what we call a crisis. If you run into a friend on the street, in a park, or at any corner and you haven’t seen them for a while, the comment is almost always the same: “I thought you had already left the country.” As if staying here were inconceivable. And indeed, it is for millions. Although the president declares in front of TV cameras that we are all very optimistic and hopeful, the prevailing idea is quite different: “whoever can leave should do so,” and that is what is happening.

In such a country, you experience overwhelming uncertainty, and of course, as always happens in these cases, figuring out what to do with the present is not an easy task. I returned home. I’m sure some friend will lend me their laptop for a while, and I will be able to do what I need. I’m sure of it.

Read more from the diary of Lien Estrada here.