Cuba, Endorsements and the Caste System
March 11, 2014
Ernesto Perez Chang
HAVANA TIMES — Finding a good job in Cuba is no easy task. On many
occasions, having been “vouched for” (that is to say, recommended) by an
important person, a member of the Communist Party (the “vanguard” of
Cuban society, as the government describes it) is far more important
than being able to demonstrate one is qualified for a certain type of
work or position.
This type of selection process has consolidated a kind of caste system
over the years. The process, designed to encourage mediocrity, has
undermined all of the country’s structures. It has allowed people devoid
of talent and knowledge to end up in the higher echelons of society and
to wield power over those who, having real talent, did not make it into
the club of the chosen few – that is to say, those who were never
Many of the demented policies that have bled out the economy, that have
turned Cuba into an unburied corpse, were put into practice because of
the headstrong philosophy and whims of those who were entrusted
leadership duties, because such people were selected on the basis of
their political loyalty and not their ability to confront problems
intelligently and on the basis of consensus-building.
Knowing that an intransigent posture will guarantee the preservation of
their status and privileges, they stand in the way of any initiative
that could damage their reliability in the eyes of the government, which
seeks to keep the country afloat without shaking up those mechanisms
that ensure decision-making prerogatives remain in the hands of a caste
whose reproduction is encouraged by the system itself.
It is no accident all important positions in the more profitable
companies have been assigned to high-ranking military officers, by the
relatives of people who wield political power and by so called
“leadership cadres”, trained in special schools where the main course
isn’t the development of decision-making skills but ideological
indoctrination of the most twisted kind.
This is truly nonsensical in a country where most citizens care little
whether the economic model that is to prevail is socialism, feudalism or
a throwback to the Stone Age, because they are simply concerned with
making ends meet, earning money and living decorously, tired as they are
of useless sacrifices.
The city in the background. Photo: Juan Suarez
When we apply for a well-paid State job or a scholarship in certain
schools, we need an endorsement that certifies we are politically
If the person has no important friends or relatives, the chances of
being accepted or admitted plummet and the path becomes increasingly
winding, almost infernal.
If you manage to avoid the system’s pitfalls, you will confirm how much
easier things are for those who, as we Cubans say, “have a godfather and
get baptized.” It doesn’t matter how stupid the person vouched for is.
The endorsement and some acting skills will get them a helicopter (and
emergency parachute) for the steep climb.
The poor person without friends in high places will always end up the
assistant or advisor, an indispensable employee who will never be
allowed to reach the top. That said, if something goes wrong during the
ascent of the protégé, his or her head will be sliced off by the blades
of the helicopter that spins out of control.
Recently, I went into a hard-currency store. In order to get an answer
to a complaint, I asked to speak with the manager. To my huge surprise,
the manager of the store was a former military officer who had been my
superior during military service. A former lieutenant colonel, he had
been sanctioned in a serious corruption case. Nearly twenty years had
gone by, and now this man was the one answering customer complaints and,
in the meantime, vouching for the honesty of the establishment.
What was this corrupt officer doing there, taking in hard currency for
his pocket, sorry, I meant for the State? The endorsement is the answer,
as is belonging to the caste system that provides shelter for the
mediocre and dishonest. Make no mistake: in time, these same chosen ones
will spawn a blood-thirsty and unstoppable monster that will devour us
all, the chosen ones and simple mortals, with one bite.
Source: Cuba, Endorsements and the Caste System – Havana Times.org –