Human Rights in Cuba

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Waiting for help
Waiting for help

The Workers Never Believed in “Their” 20th Congress / Orlando Freire Santana
Posted on March 15, 2014

HAVANA, Cuba. The 20th Congress of the ruling Cuba Workers Central
(CTC) has just concluded its sessions. Even though authorities
proclaimed that this had been a democratic meeting, what is true of
every workplace discussion of the main documents is that very few
workers expected anything good from the event. I could verify the
foregoing a day after the conclusion in conversations held with several

Alina is a worker in a dressmaking shop of the Ministry of Industries.
She told me that she did not bother to read newspapers or watch
television news during the days that the Congress was in session.
Overall, it was not going to answer her demand and that of the rest of
her companions: a salary increase.

Alina told me that in her workshop three systems of payment have been
applied, and none of them has served any purpose. They have not been
able to pay the wage stimulus because the company to which the workshop
is subordinate has breached the indicators that they call
macroeconomics, and no worker understands where they come from.

The day that they gave the pre-Congress meeting in her workshop, her
companions suggested that, since they never paid the stimulus, at least
they could increase the base salary. But the municipal CTC official said
that was impossible until the country’s labor production and
productivity increased. “And of course I wasn’t about to listen to the
same story now in the 20th Congress,” concluded Alina.

Miguel Angel is a Bachelor in Economics. He does not much like that kind
of slogan that the government brandishes in the context of modernizing
the economic model, in the sense that planning prevails over the market.
What he likes least is that the CTC is not original and merely repeats
what the country’s rulers say.

Like many, he was not aware of what happened in the chief worker
meeting. He did not need to be. Some days before, Mr. Ulises Guilarte de
Nacimiento, who presided over the Organizing Commission for the 20th
Congress, confirmed that the unions supported the economic strategy that
planning put in the foreground. “Well,” says Miguel Angel, “I oppose
planning in Cuba. The government planners here, besides being
inefficient in their work, want to stick their noses into everything,
even in what must be produced and sold in a simple farmer’s market.”

And on passing near one area where some months before everything was
business due to the clothes that private workers were marketing and that
today languishes in loneliness, I stumbled on Yoandri, a young man who
had to turn in his license as a self-employed worker. He was one of the
first to agree to belong to the unions sponsored by the CTC. Today,
however, he assesses that decision as useless. “Bottom line, it was all
for nothing. When they closed my clothing business, the union did
nothing to defend me,” he confessed.

He also said that his case could serve as a lesson to many other
self-employed workers who find themselves pressured by authorities to
join the unions. “The government wants to unionize them in order to
control them better, because here the union and the government are the
same thing. The rest is baloney,” he concluded.

Ah, and the three knew beforehand that the fatso by the name of
Brazilian — as they call Ulises Guilarte de Nacimiento — was going to be
elected secretary general of the CTC. That was decided previously.

Cubanet, February 26, 2014, Orlando Freire Santana

Translated by mlk

Source: The Workers Never Believed in “Their” 20th Congress / Orlando
Freire Santana | Translating Cuba –

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