An Example of Bureaucracy in Cuba

By Fernando Ravsberg

burocracia-etecsa-cubaHAVANA TIMES — This Friday I visited an office of ETECSA [the telecommunications monopoly] to get a refund of a US $100 deposit I had given a few years ago. The process took half an hour and I had to sign 11 receipts! When I went to sit, the security guard stopped me saying that the chair was hers.

A dozen or so persons were in line outside and when I got inside I noticed that only half of the employees were working. Next to me, two of them were negotiating the sale of a pair of shorts with the guard, the owner of the chair.

A pregnant woman came for a procedure but she was told that she must speak with “the boss” and that he only serves the population on Fridays from 9 to 12, so she would have to wait until next week, if she doesn’t give birth first.

5 thoughts on “An Example of Bureaucracy in Cuba

  • I recall similar experiences in Moscow back in the day — we pretend to work and they pretend to pay us. That being said, dealing with Verizon is not exactly a picnic.

  • There is no incentive for a cuban government or other worker to serve the public.none !!the system (cuba) is changing but its changing from the top down….its time that the people ,the ordinary citizen/worker to change as will be extreamly hard for them to do as they just do not know any other way.when the boom starts in earnest the cuban worker will be replacd by workers from other countries.the first thing the cuban worker needs to learn is not to steal…

  • There is a billboard around Cuba and in a few places in Havana that shows a picture of Fidel’s side-view on the left and reads …’after Fidel’ and on the other half if the billboard shows 40 of the same image of Fidel. It is meant to counter the hope that after Fidel dies, his ideology will die with him. Fernando’s problem is a common one shared by many Cubans. Many government employees don’t see themselves as public servants, they are all mini-Fidel’s. Imperious and beyond reproach.

  • Red tape or many forms tend to be the norm in government bureaucracies because being a monopoly means it serves a large population. The internet and digital filing and computation have simplified and/or sped up much of the bureaucracy. I suspect that Cuba is relatively deficient in both areas, so I can understand the example of 11 receipts. I wonder, though, why it took several years to apply for a refund. This could be an area of expertise and equipment and software that the U.S. could be helpful in providing as ETECSA allows U.S. companies to participate in the Cuban marketplace.

  • Bureaucracy is a universal problem. Even Che Guevara spoke against it. Only systems with check and balances can create healthy accountability needed to discipline the public and private sector bureaucracies that are a natural growth of large organizations.

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