The Concerns of Many

Veronica Fernandez

Cuban workers at the last May Day march.

A short time ago, in addition to information and discussions in workplaces across the country, material came out in the Cuban press about the different measures that the Cuban government has decided to take in connection with the massive reduction in the number of public employees and in the restructuring of the nation’s work force.

This is not the first time we Cubans have faced such measures in the course of our revolutionary process.  Yet in the street there’s great apprehension, as well as many doubts and uncertainties with respect to all this.  People are unhappy and unmotivated because —independently of the fact that many of them know this is an economic necessity for the country— what they don’t have is all the information they require, even though there are predictions that additional measures will be announced before the end of the year.

At bus stops you’ll hear the opinions of many people who “support and understand the measures,” as well as those of others who demonstrate themselves staunchly opposed in the face of such decisions.

I have to ask myself why all this is happening.  Are the Cuban people prepared to accept these measures?

It’s said that no one will be left to their own fate, but the fact is that not everyone can work as a self-employed vendor or in agriculture or construction, though these are vital links in the work force at this moment.

The coming massive layoffs has Cuban society highly concerned.

We have been informed through the press that those people who are laid off for not being “suitable” will be able to apply for self-employment licenses; however the question remains as to where the supplies and raw materials for this will come.  Is it that merely being able to apply for a license will automatically make life easy?

A few days ago I was talking to a friend who knows people who are assured they’re going to be laid off.  They’ve gone to apply for licenses, but to obtain them have been asked for a certain amount of money in CUCs (Cuban hard currency).  It’s precisely here where the first obstacle has already raised its head.

Where is an honest person supposed to get large sums of money in CUCs when their wages in regular pesos aren’t enough to live on as it is?  I’m talking about people who don’t cheat or steal from the State or anyone.

Let’s remember that the median monthly wage in the country is equal to about 15 CUCs ($18 USD) and then we’ll realize once again that no one can meet their minimum basic needs for subsistence on that amount.

Let’s remember that a two-pound bag of powdered milk sells for 5 CUCs in the “dollar store,” to give only one example.  And if you need to buy a pair of shoes, it’s not even worth quoting the price…

So what happens to a person who’s over 40 or 50 years old who doesn’t have the money to obtain their self-employment license and cannot transition into agriculture or construction labor due to health problems; but are still aren’t at the retirement age?  These and many other pressing problems will have to be addressed in these new measures.

I’ve seen grown people crying for their children and for themselves.  I’ve seen people who are revolutionaries of heart who feel defenseless and feel fright if not panic over these measures.

The truth is that it is necessary and indispensable that these steps are taken, but it’s also imminently necessary and important that human beings are not stripped or robbed of the rights and benefits for which they have struggled so hard after having contributed with their effort to build a society like ours, one based on the maxim of Jose Marti: “With all and for the wellbeing of all.”

Veronica Fernadez

Veronica Fernandez: I was born in the town of Regla, on the other side of Havana Bay. Over the years, many people from Regla have gone to live in Cojimar, fleeing the contamination from the petroleum refinery in Regla. That's what my family did when I was just four years old. Since I was a little girl I have been drawn to the arts and letters. Poetry and narrative writing are my favorites. I had the good fortune to study philology, a branch of the human sciences dealing with language and literature, at the University of Havana with top notch professors. As a Capricorn, I adore organization, people who are mature, the romantic things in life and the lack of self-interest that is the backbone of these times. I enjoy our typical Cuban food, (white rice, black beans, pork and yucca with garlic sauce) and also Italian food. I also like chocolate and drinking a mojito (rum cocktail) in the historic center of my city.



3 thoughts on “The Concerns of Many

  • Veronica, major changes are under way, the fact is that the Government has not the money they need to buy Goods which they have to import to survive. The Real Problem is that the training and quality for to move forward are not given by the System which has been in place the last 50 years. Therefore you have to start adjusting in a more freelance way to get you trough this time, please be positive and start to adjust wisely. I like Regla and I think into the future this will be an area which has potential as soon as the old rafinery, the electricy facilities, the Docks and the houses in bad shape are Redeveloped this will be one of the best areas in or around Havana. The Docks are key which can deliver work and money to survive. All over the world everybody is in trouble and you have to face the possibility that your expat from Florida will flok in and take you apart, because they have no future in Florida and no money, no houses and they will grab whatever they can without paying for it and run to Cuba. Its comming fast, be prepared, a friend!!

    Reply
  • The economic solution is not having tens of thousands of people opening up stalls in markets.
    Practically all the cities of Latin America are covered with stalls selling often plastic junk, contributing nothing to their economy. The massive urbanization of Latin America, in cities like Mexico City,has led to shortages
    of water, transportation etc. because of their sheer size. The same is beginning to happen to Havana.
    Cuba imports a large part of its food. I believe the Cuban government should be assisting people to move back to the countryside to enable them to return to farming. This means shifting resources from the city to the countryside. It means planning rather than returning to primative capitalist competition.

    Reply

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