Creative Solutions for Cuba’s Unproductive Labor Problem

The solution

“After the uprising of the 17th of June
The Secretary of the Writers’ Union
Had leaflets distributed in the Stalinallee
Stating that the people
Had forfeited the confidence of the government
And could win it back only
By redoubled efforts. Would it not be easier
In that case for the government
To dissolve the people
And elect another?”
-Bertold Brecht

By Rogelio Manuel Diaz Moreno

Indian construction workers in Old Havana. Photo: Juan Suarez
Indian construction workers in Old Havana. Photo: Juan Suarez

HAVANA TIMES – As a result of the episode of tourist companies in Cuba hiring construction workers from India, I got really scared. Ah, but then I saw the advantageous side of things, and I’m going to explain these opportunities to you.

I initially panicked, I can’t deny it. Sometimes, at my hospital, people also complain about how undisciplined we are and how we don’t work however much the authorities want us to. Can you imagine? One of these days, I thought, they’ll get rid of us all and hire physicists from some other part of the world. It’s true that these professionals earn 5000 USD and more per month while we only earn around 40 USD. Although, I’m sure that somebody in our government would think that the difference was worth paying and that there will no doubt be official journalists supporting them.

I was really sad. One of these days, I thought they’ll get rid of all of us. If they haven’t already, maybe that’s because it’s too much hard work for them. They must be hesitant to put us before the Committee that will declare us unfit. I thought, why can’t I have a little less revolutionary union, like those foreigners? That’s why so many Cubans leave! And that’s when I saw an opportunity.

If we suddenly all leave and live outside the country, the government will see themselves free of us. Free of lazy people, waiting to be spoon fed, etc. It won’t have to do the embarrassing maneuver of kicking us out. It’ll have its hands free to go abroad and hire physicists at market value. And we’ll be there!

Since the time of Marti’s essay A Vindication of Cuba, it’s been proven that people from this country excel abroad. We stand out for our skills, our tenacity, our resolve to create a dignified life for our families, while we contribute to the societies where we live. It won’t be difficult for a Cuban official to recognize the fact that outside of Cuba, we have such a high level of performance that our authorities can only dream of.

Reasons for this difference? Let’s just say that they’re irrelevant. And we’ll return victorious, in a win-win deal.

Thinking about it properly, this practice won’t be exclusive to specific field. It can be reproduced, company by company, municipality by municipality. The Cuban people would leave, let’s say to India, the Dominican Republic, which is nearer, to Mexico; in short, anywhere. The important thing is to be on the lookout and hunt down the Cuban government representative looking to import a workforce. Maybe it would be necessary to set up an agreement with a foreign investor or benefactor who will give us the money so that we can all leave the country. When we return, with improved salaries, we’ll give back this money that’s been loaned out to us with decent interest.

Then I thought about it a bit more, and another better option came to me. More efficient: at least, less people will have to move… But it was so subversive that I deleted it from the article I thought about sending to my editor so that I wouldn’t get into trouble. But, for some very strange reason, I mixed up the files and I sent the one that had this other option. That’s why you’re going to read it right now, but keep it to yourself!

After all, government officials are also society’s employees. And they also have to show their high performance, is that not so? And their official salary is the same as ours; at least that’s what they tell us sometimes to prove the great sacrifice they are making. We should then threaten them with being fired and employ ministers and other officials from Scandinavia, from (South!) Korea, from Singapore, and all the other places where things seem to work properly.

And we’ll offer to pay them a decent salary, meeting international standards. We’ll also put a knife to the necks of our current union leaders. Even from those at the top’s viewpoint, it’s clear that they aren’t doing the job they’ve been given of making us work harder. So the Indian workers’ union must be clearly better.

Let’s just say then that our leaders are the ones who will leave. And once abroad, they’ll be able to prove that they work four or five times better than they do here in Cuba. The representative of Cuban society will then go out looking for personel, will contact them and offer them the opportunity to work for us again. And if there are some officials who don’t pass the exam, then we’re free of this burden. We’ll replace them with Bernie Sanders or whoever else we can think of. Or with other working people in this country, who are both intelligent and skilled, and there are many of them. Or by horizontal consensus and democratic election.

And we will all be able to live in the best of all worlds.