By Pedro Pablo Morejon
HAVANA TIMES – Excessive bureaucracy is a disease caused by Cuba’s control oriented system. The frustration and inefficiency it decrys are the collateral damage facing the island’s population.
As a legal adviser for a state company, I must go to different government institutions to get paperwork. This could be from a court, attorney general’s office, commercial or property register office. Likewise, the local housing board, physical planning office and a long etc.
It was the local Physical Planning office that I had to go to recently. I needed to get a certificate of measurements and boundaries of some properties belonging to the company I represent. I am currently in the process of registering those at the Property Registration office.
When I arrived, I saw the same thing I always do. A long line under the summer morning sun, waiting for their far-off turn to get some personal documents. That could be anything from a simple ruling to a permit.
Doing paperwork in Cuba is punishment for citizens
People were crowded around the building. A fence separated them from the building, until they were allowed in to the waiting room. This was also packed with other people waiting to be seen.
A woman said that she had spent months trying to get her paperwork, just like an elderly man also said.
“You come here and they tell you to come back on such and such a day and that day they weren’t there.”
“And they tell you this with a smile,” another woman said.
You might have thought that applications and processes would have slowed down because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
It’s true that ever since lockdown began in March up until Pinar del Rio province entered the third phase of recovery (a triumphant understatement when we thought that we had beat the new coronavirus), services had been limited quite a bit, but I have seen this scene play out for years.
Hurdles, going back and forth, delays in much-needed paperwork. They might be getting a license to a permit to build a house to a simple deed that needs updating. All of this despite more flexible regulations adopted in recent years on these matters.
But they aren’t enough. All the regulations that require cumbersome paperwork in Cuba are designed to control the lives of every single Cuban. That includes even those who live abroad.
As long as we have socialist totalitarianism, these frustrating evils will thrive and endure, the result of excessive bureaucracy.
Evils that people in the United States might call “collateral damage”.