Counter-Development: A Disoriented Work Force / Luis Felipe Rojas

Recently, certain news from Guantanamo managed to stun me once more, because of its cruelty and because of the dark future stains which it presents for its actors. The note was signed by the Human Rights activist Yordis Garcia Fournier and it assures that more than twenty youths from that area were officially warned and cast aside by the National Revolutionary Police (PNR) due to their labor detachment or that their conducts are classified as improper by uniformed officials.

During the last few months of 2008, as supported by an investigative report carried out by Jorge Corrales Ceballos, I informed through this blog about the pressures exercised in that same center against more than 80 youths for the same causes. On that occasion, a number of them ended up in prison under charges of Pre-Criminal Social Dangerousness. Human Rights Watch mentioned the incident in its reports and I was arrested various times, my phone was blocked for a couple of days, and the political police of Guantanamo directly threatened me because, according to them, I had been “talking about things which did not pertain to my neighborhood”. However, the violations against youths, not only from there, but from all over the nation, continued.

Now, as they are lashing out against these beardless southeastern Cubans, it would be good to return the ball to the court of the governmental culprits. When, in a matter of less than 5 years, the possibilities of access for graduates into Superior Education has diminished, what can we expect for that floating citizenship? The overpopulation in the registration lists for the Polytechnic Majors had shown us a qualified work force which would have boosted the economy of the country, but now our leaders have appeared with a “work force reduction” which they euphemistically refer to as “re-structuring of the labor force” or the politics of availability.

Back to the subject of the threatened youths, it’s worth asking: If they are available, then why threaten them? How can a young lathe operator, who has been condemned to fill up matches or to sell unnecessary products in state dependencies, be socially dangerous? The official statistics of youths who are unemployed due to lack of real work placement will never be published. Because of this, having such information in one’s hands to carry out a logical analysis is not very likely.

Right now, the educational politics is to graduate more “medical technicians” all the way from the secondary level and to return to the educational plan of four years, but where can thousands of qualified graduates of various professions who sleep on the eternal floor be employed?

More than half a hundred polytechnic institutes throughout the country graduated youths who majored in specialties such as Construction and Sugar Production, but those who assumed their professions for a while have been forced to dedicate themselves more to cultivating and cleaning the grass than to actually building, without detailing the depression of the sugar sector within the last decade. There is a skilled labor force which is qualified and which exceeds the possibilities of employment. After this, if they do not desire to work in sectors which are unrelated to their studies, then why classify them as social misfits or as prone to crime?

The logic of the polytechnic and technological enrollments in Cuba have been historically as follows: the students with little possibilities of entering universities opted for an average education. With the worsening of the economic crisis in the ’90s, the balance inclined towards commodity and calm: studying for half a day and a semi-internship for students, which translated into less effort for parents as the direct responsible ones. When the enrollments for urban and rural pre-university students were reduced, the amount of middle-technicians and qualified workers increased. A floating population, which is now difficult to chain down when they decide not to live off their parents anymore, goes out to fight with life and does not always win, but they dodge now, and hold it in tomorrow. And that’s how they mortgage the future- to whom? One day we’ll know. For a crook — another one — some would say.

Translated by Raul G.

8 July 2012