Parade / Regina Coyula

May Day 2011. Photo: Roberto Suárez, from Cuba Journal

May Day is a day of worker empowerment. On that date they parade demanding improved working conditions, an increase in wages or more just labor laws. In Cuba, where workers are being subjected to “downsizing”, where the uncertainty about their place of employment, and the uncertainty of non-living wage are fundamental concerns, the first of May is celebrated with massive parades in all provinces. Signs abound in support of the Revolution (read Government) but there will not be a single sign demanding wage increases, the disappearance of the double currency, or transparency in the layoffs.

This country is so surreal, that the newly unionized self-employed workers, will parade in massive numbers. A group whose main concern should be the demand for non-discriminatory treatment, easing of red tape to access a work permit, extending the range of permitted activities and less severe taxes.

The union bureaucracy assigns the number of attendees by province and two weeks ago it was announced precisely how many workers would participate in each of the processions.

After this “spontaneous” demonstration, we will see in the news how the movement of the indignant undertook their protests; how in other places the workers march under heavy police presence and we may even see repression in some corner of the world. I don’t think they can find similarities.

April 30 2012