Idle Human Capital / Fernando Damaso

Photo by Rebeca

In Cuba there are a ton of professionals and technicians who have graduated from universities and who are not directly linked to profitable enterprises, but to political, administrative and bureaucratic tasks. In addition, due to recent drastic cuts in state employment, there are thousands of them who are not working in their professions. Since professional private practice is prohibited, in order to survive, they have taken jobs as artisans, taxi drivers, cooks, peddlers, vegetable vendors, lighting repairmen, etcetera. The government’s low salaries and poor working conditions are a disincentive. That is how many well-educated and experienced citizens have been lost, falling through the cracks, as though they were expendable.

We can, without any doubt, assert that there is a large amount of human capital that is being underutilized and that has no chance of professional or self-realization in this country. Add to this the new graduates who every year try to enter the labor force but cannot find a job commensurate with their education, making the situation even more tense and difficult.

For this reason, the travel restrictions in the new immigration law that apply to this section of the population, and that according to the government are necessary in order to combat brain drain, are not at all understood. It would be as if a potato farmer, having had a good harvest, did not consume his potatoes or let others buy them, leaving them in the open to spoil.

Our authorities have a dog-in-the-manger attitude. Only in this case we are not talking about potatoes or dogs, but people, whose lives are now curtailed due to the enforcement of a feudal state mentality. Instead of providing a solution to the emigration problem, the newly approved measures add fuel to the fire through the accumulation of idle human capital that will escape, one way or another, in an attempt to achieve self-realization.

Since those who will have less of a hard time leaving or travelling are retired people and the less educated – citizens who are the least attractive to host countries – Cuban authorities will be able to say that, while they issue thousands of passports, the ones who do not issue visas are other countries, making it seem as if the they are not the ones obstructing emigration, but others. Another manipulative twist, one of many to which we have become accustomed. Give it time!

Translated by Eduardo Alemán

October 26 2012