Cuba’s Bureaucracy Continues Unabated

Osmel Almaguer

A Metropolitan Bank branch. Photo: Caridad

HAVANA TIMES, Dec 16 — I’m here at the bank where I’m unable to cash a check for 100 pesos ($5 USD), which I earned for the articles I’ve written. The cashier said the signature was invalid.

I had to travel eight miles across the city by bus, with all the difficulties involved — having to spend money on something to eat as well as bus fare — and all for nothing.

If this were an isolated incident it would be irrelevant, I’d have no reason for going through this type of catharsis.

But it’s more than that. The problem has roots (…branches and even flowers) in the inner being of the person who signs the checks at the Cuban Book Institute and in the mind of the superior who has done nothing to sanction this individual for always signing the checks differently and putting contributors like me through these endless hassles.

What was most shocking was at the office where I picked up my check. They told me ever so self-assuredly that the checks are valid at any Metropolitan Bank, which I know good and well isn’t true – based on my past experiences.

You get to a point where all you can do is laugh. In my case, I recently quit my full-time job there at the Cuban Book Institute precisely to escape this bureaucratic bedlam in which one finds themselves getting more and more worn down, with not even society benefiting.

But what happens is that when the problem lies at the core of daily life and is generalized, it’s impossible to escape it entirely. What’s even worse than the bureaucracy is the alienation it all brings.

Everything is a confused and absurd tangle of apathetic and careless government employees together with angry and overwhelmed customers.


Osmel Almaguer:Until recently I would to identify myself as a poet, a cultural promoter and a university student. Now that my notions on poetry have changed slightly, that I got a new job, and that I have finished my studies, I’m forced to ask myself: Am I a different person? In our introductions, we usually mention our social status instead of looking within ourselves for those characteristics that define us as unique and special. The fact that I’m scared of spiders, that I’ve never learned to dance, that I get upset over the simplest things, that culminating moments excite me, that I’m a perfectionist, composed but impulsive, childish but antiquated: these are clues that lead to who I truly am.

One thought on “Cuba’s Bureaucracy Continues Unabated

  • As long as productive, working individuals do not own their workplaces directly, through some form of cooperative corporate legal structure, Osmel, bureaucracy will be a continuing problem. Bureau workers, high and low, have no incentive to do their jobs with heart when they do not have to answer for their lack of care, or their total incompetence.

    This is true in both capitalist and monopoly state ownership socialism. Cuba, like the US, needs to be constituted as a socialist cooperative republic. Is there anyone down there who will work for such a republic?

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