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work ethics in cuba
recent news from havana
by gonzalo fernández
10.1.10
general

In my book "Cuba's Primer - Castro's Earring Economy," I wrote about the lack of work ethics in Cuba as a result of the economic model imposed by the Castro's dictatorship.

A North Carolina business man, after reading my book, had this astute comment:

"Your use of 'Earring' to describe Castro's economy is amusing, yet I know it is deadly serious. Restoring the work ethic to prior Castro levels may take years." Kenneth Marks

Extracts from my book related to this topic:

…Work Ethics

Castro got a taste of what working means on some occasions in which he led voluntary work mobilizations to encourage the Cuban people to do more on top of their regular jobs. Early in his governing years, Castro was televised “working” as he cut sugarcane during voluntary work promotional gimmicks.

As a reaction to what he found in the hard work of sugarcane harvesting, he came up with some ideas. Castro said in speeches that his government would import and manufacture sugarcane cutting machines. He also promised to have tractors with air conditioning. He could not envision himself, and consequently anyone else, doing the hard work of sugarcane harvesting. Castro possesses a messianic approach as he offers solutions to problems. Over the years, he has conjured grandiose economic schemes announced to the Cuban people with very little accomplishments at the time of delivery.

Castro continues to these days in 2012 with his delirious plans. In an article published by Cuban official website Cubadebate, he wrote about growing Moringa and Morera trees in Cuba. He indicated that these plants would allow an inexhaustible source of meats, eggs, milk and silk fibers… and that this farming work would take place in the shade of these trees… Source: El Nuevo Herald, EFE, June 18, 2012. (Translation.)

Aside from this formulation of one more messianic approach to resolving the foodstuff farming failures brougth about by their Communist centralized economy, it should be noted his obsession with avoiding hard work in farming by emphasizing that the required jobs would be performed "in the shade of these trees."

Castro’s aberration of work has permeated to the Cuban population in general. I remember an interview on television with Francisco Gattorno, a Cuban actor, three years ago. He emigrated from Cuba and has an acting career in Mexico and in the States. He made a remark about Cuba. He said that working in Cuba was a staged production, the Cuban government pretends that they are paying you, and people pretend that they are working.

… Cuba’s Internal and External Problems

In my opinion, the major internal problem that Cuba faces is that Communism has destroyed within the populace the will to work meaningfully, with ramifications among all segments of the Cuban workforce.

“If the concept of the permanent revolution in Cuba comes to an end, Cubans are going to have to begin to work because a very curious thing occurs – everybody has a job and no one works.”[1]

That was an assessment made in 1987. The following is a comment made in 2008:

“. . . A few days ago an individual, talking among friends in his neighborhood in Cuba, said that the major accomplishment of the revolution was that Cubans live without having to work. . .”[2]

This has been acknowledged by Raul Castro, August 1, 2010, announcing layoffs from Cuban government payrolls

“We have to erase forever the notion that Cuba is the only country in the world where one can live without working.”

Source: A Viewer’s Guide to Cuba’s Economic Reform, by Philip Peters, Vice President of the Lexington Institute
May 2012.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

[1] Jacobo Timerman, Now Hear This, FORTUNE magazine, December 31, 1987.
[2] Juan Carlos Linares Balmaseda, Cubanet/Noticubainternacional, April 2, 2008.

Book website: www.cubasprimer.com

Something else:

Regarding the Cuban government program allowing working “outside the state sector,” it should be noted that the allowed private activities are limited to an owner and a few hired employees. The impact of these activities, in the best case, will be very little in the context of the total Cuban economy, where the national gross domestic product is controlled by the Cuban government almost in its entirety. The grip over the Cuban economy will continue under the proven inefficiencies of a centralized economic model.


ABOUT GONZALO FERNÁNDEZ

Gonzalo is a business consultant. He is one of the coauthors of The Handbook of Financing Growth, Wiley, Second Edition, 2009, Marks, Robbins, Fernández, Funkhouser and Williams. In Cuba's Primer, Lulu, 2009, he writes with the conviction and knowledge of a personal witness.

more about gonzalo fernández

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