“Witchcraft” to Keep a Job

Regina Cano

Photo: Elio Delgado

At the job of a friend of mine, sprinkles of dusting powder* have appeared throughout the corridors and in the common areas of the facility.

This whips up fear on the part of Afro-Cuban religious believers and makes others be careful where they tread. It’s thought that when stepping in the powder, the consequences can be grave and so therefore it’s better to avoid such situations…just in case.

Supposedly this is indicative that some workers who are well versed in the practice of certain beliefs are seeking the assistance from their saints.  It’s believed  that such people are trying to eliminate the threat of their being laid off because of the Managerial Improvement Program (Cuban Taylorism say some), which is now being applied in workplaces across the island.

Through that program management is examining approaches to solving the state of commercial affairs, though this is making the atmosphere tense on the job.  Some of the workers — those belonging to a population that is religious in the majority — are taking precautions by seeking support from their mediators with the ancestral, universal and mythical world.

A significant portion of the employees at this particular firm are trained professionals, therefore the negative effects of Managerial Improvement will be minimum.  However, this incident with the powder indicates desperation and uncertainty, as people are terrified of being affected.

This is understandable and makes one wonder what will be happen in other places where the numbers of layoffs will have a much greater impact.

We are in a time that could become quite critical and would involve all Cuban citizens who live in the country.  This will compel priests and pastors of whatever religion to work arduously because their places of worship will be filled and the saints exceedingly busy.

I hope that for our sake that there’s a path that channels this in a positive direction and protects the Cuban family from the abandonment that some fear, since the need for a job will be precarious terrain for accepting any offer.

Note:  Powder or “polvazo” (in the vox populi): a term that identifies the practice of “brujeria” (Afro-Cuban witchcraft) that supposedly clears the path of anyone who spreads it to achieve a given objective and at the same time impede the path of others.

One thought on ““Witchcraft” to Keep a Job

  • Last time in Cuba I was walking with a friend. She pointed out a small dead bird on the corner, on the other corner was pieces of a chicken and further down the road was a white plastic bag filled with various unknown objects. She joked and pointed saying, “this person wants to go to France, and this person the United States, and the chicken legs, they want to go to Italy”. Who knows if there will be an increase in Santeria practices due to the economic instability within in Cuba recently. I know that after all the time I spent in Cuba its rubbed off on me a bit. I was having a hard time getting scheduled the hours I wanted at my job (I work on call). So I bought a “lucky candle” at the local botanica. I lit it and the next day I got the exact shift I wanted ! I made sure to leave a little gift for Ellegua at my doorstep. I told some people in Cuba about my magic candle, and immediately they asked why I didn’t bring them one 🙂

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