Working to Work

Lisduania Victorero Reinoso

Bus Stop in Cienfuegos. Photo: Caridad

HAVANA TIMES — Having to work to work is no more than one of the obstacles that arise when it comes to doing even the simplest thing here, and of course this is now part of the daily life of every Cuban.

You get up in the morning ready to go to work, and — in the best case — the only problem is that you don’t have many choices for breakfast. You drink a cup of coffee, which isn’t the greatest, and then you head out on a grand odyssey.

The bus stop is full of people willing to mistreat you so they can get to work on time. Here is where you run into a big hassle. You can spend hours watching buses go by full of people, while you’re unable to get on. Meanwhile your anxiety and desperation grow as you worry about getting to your job.

You manage to punch the clock a half an hour after you’re supposed to, so your boss announces that on payday you won’t get the little incentive pay in hard currency because of your failure to get to work on time – making you want to strangle him!

After the displeasure and discomfort comes the “best part.”

If you work in an office, you might not have any paper for printing out your reports because the few sheets they gave you at the beginning of the month have run out. If you’re in a school, you have to come up with your own chalk.

If you’re a worker, you have to “borrow” tools. If you’re a doctor, the gloves, specula and scalpels they give you aren’t enough to treat all of your patients. If you’re the person in charge of cleaning, things are also complicated because you have almost no supplies to do your job.

Even in private businesses there are obstacles. Here too, it’s always difficult to find the essential work materials. Nobody’s exempt.

It’s like this in everything you do, there’s always something lacking when it comes to work. But since many of us are responsible and hardworking, what we end up doing is buying those supplies out of our own pockets or asking for them from a friend who works at a place where they have plenty of work supplies.

Over those eight hours, it isn’t easy to avoid the obstacles. That’s why I say you have to work hard in order to work, not to mention how you feel by the time you get home after a whole day of this.

If you’re a woman, you know that you’ll have to turn into a magician in the kitchen; and if you’re a male, you’ll have to learn to be like Jesus Christ and multiply the money in your wallet so you can feed your family a little better.


Lisduania Victorero Reinoso: I’m 35 and live somewhere in the city of Havana. I am a middle-level graduate in economics and am self employed, preparing and selling food items. I am also a photography aficionada. I have never put myself to writing not even a kids diary, but I will try here in the most sincere and clear manner possible, always with a personal touch. I’m looking forward to your comments.

6 thoughts on “Working to Work

  • May 18, 2013 at 9:58 am

    “How much the government is soaking them”? Don’t be ridiculous.

  • May 18, 2013 at 9:54 am

    Cuba is doing remarkably well, considering its lack of resources.

    “No one familiar with US practices in the region or elsewhere can possibly believe that the goal of intensive US terror operations against Cuba and harsh economic warfare was intended to “bring democracy to the Cuban people.” That is just propaganda, unusually vulgar in this case.

    The actual reasons for the terror and economic warfare were explained clearly at the very outset: the goal was to cause “rising discomfort among hungry Cubans” so that they would overthrow the regime (Kennedy); to “bring about hunger, desperation, and overthrow of the government” (Eisenhower’s State Department). The threat of Cuba, as Kennedy’s Latin American advisor Arthur Schlesinger advised the incoming president, is that successful independent development there might stimulate others who suffer from similar problems to follow the same course, so that the system of US domination might unravel. The liberal Democratic administrations were outraged over Cuba’s “successful defiance” of US policies going back to the Monroe Doctrine, which was intended to ensure obedience to the US will in the hemisphere. To a substantial extent, US terror and economic warfare has achieved its actual goals, causing bitter suffering among Cubans, impeding economic development, and undermining moves towards more internal democracy. Exactly as intended.”

    – Noam Chomsky

    Also, the mass transportation difficulties in Havana are not typical throughout the world. Mass transportation in the US,Canada, Mexico, most of Central America and South America, China and throughout Europe is very efficient. As is usual, you misinform others, Mr. Patterson.

  • January 29, 2013 at 10:33 am

    A not quite “real” job that pays them $18 per month which is not enough to survive on. Every Cuban family has to work out some alternative, a “resovler” to make up the difference.

  • January 29, 2013 at 10:29 am

    Education and healthcare are never free. These services cost money to provide. The people pay for them through taxes. In Cuba, the taxes are deducted before the workers are paid, so they never see how much the government is soaking them. It would be more accurate to call the services, “publicly shared-cost” as everybody pays into them. This is distinct from private education and private healthcare in which the cost is paid by each particular user.

    I’m all for public shared-cost education & healthcare, (we have them in Canada) but let’s call it what it is and stop fooling ourselves that it is “free”.

  • January 29, 2013 at 8:33 am

    Many of the problems that Cubans face on a daily basis are no more severe than the problems people face all over the world. Crowded public transportation, unsympathetic bosses, and low pay, to name a few. Despite the fact that complaining seems to be a national sport in Cuba, there really are a few problems unique to Cuban life that merit highlighting. Shortages in the basics such as toilet paper, cleaning and personal hygiene products are nagging legacies of Soviet-style socialist mismanagement. These are the dirty little secrets hidden from the view of tourists and others sympathetic to the regime. Free education, health care and safe streets are widely publicized, but undersupplied classrooms, unsanitary conditions in hospitals, and falling buildings are the reality that Cubans have to deal with on a daily basis. The effort to overcome problems in Cuba are further hindered by the all-purpose excuse that all things wrong with Cuba are a result of the US embargo. It’s easier to blame the embargo than it is to seriously address the embargo.

  • January 29, 2013 at 8:14 am

    Well, so what if the coffee isn’t the best and the bus is a little crowded. It’s no different anywhere else in the world, in some parts it’s worse even.

    Despite the misgivings, at least these Cubans referred to here actually have a job. A real job.

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