Desde Dentro de Cuba.

Distribuido por Cuba Free Press, Inc. -

March 17, 1999


HAVANA - Unemployment in Cuba is one of the social issues most difficult to solve and it brings innumerable ethical and moral consequences. But this should not overshadow such things as the miserable wages paid to the sugar workers under the present system, as noted below.

Official unemployment statistics published by the weekly "Trabajadores" (Workers) March 8 pointed out the importance of the 43,000 new jobs created in 1998 for the whole nation.

But nothing is mentioned about the number of those who for different reasons abandoned their work or the many young people who reach working ages but do not find desirable employment options.

An objective analyses of this matter would imply, first, the lack of importance given to reducing unemployment. Government interest should be directed toward solving a problem which is a source of social instability. But in reality little can be done to improve this matter if the economy does not progress with sufficient energy. And that is precisely the 'Achilles Heel' of this country.

When I referred to the ethical and moral danger implied in the current national work crisis, it was because it relates in more than one way to the rise of crime in the last few years, especially in the younger generations.

It is known to everyone that the labor opportunities that do not proceed from tourism related jobs or certain other sectors are not of interest to Cubans who find insufficient even the 400-peso salary of the professional state workers.

"Working for the state is the worst decision that could be made nowadays," say many of the unemployed. They estimate that the 200-pesos monthly salary for ordinary workers could be made in one day in "business," even an illegal one.

Several examples, among ordinary Cubans, show that the honest families who depend on the salaries of one or more of their members suffer the worst economically. This is very visible in the home when the time comes to fulfill the food needs of the family, especially the children or the aged or the sick members.

Among the hones families are the sugarcane workers. Recently, I read a report on the deteriorated standard of living of the sugarcane workers. It is paradoxical that this happens to those employed in a sector of primary importance to the economy of the country. We can not forget that these men and women depend on miserable salaries and scarce resources to produce the state goods offered by the bountiful black market.

To learn the truth of this situation, I had the opportunity to be present during the funeral of the mother of Juan Rivero, sugarcane worker, in the Havana municipality of Jaruco.

To conduct the body the four kilometers to the cemetery, this worker of a Basic Unit for Production in a Cooperative - UBPC - from the Complex Agroindustrial Camilo Cienfuegos factory, one hearse was available, while thde family and closest friends had to ride in a wagon pulled by a tractor.

Inquiring later about this incident, I learned that UBPC could use only seven liters of gas taken from a piece of equipment out of service. That was why there was no proper vehicle available for burial.

I believe no tourism employee or even the unemployed would travel on the same difficult road of misery through which the late Rivero was conducted.

Orlando Bordón Gálvez, Cuba Free Press.

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