Layoffs and Farewells

She was an attorney at a business in Camagüey until the Day of the Magi, when her gift was a layoff notice. Disheartened, she took home her plastic drinking cup and the small-leafed plant that adorned her desk. At first, she didn’t know how to tell her husband she was no longer employed, nor how to call her parents and tell them their “little girl” had been left aside in the new reorganization of the workforce. She endured and remained silent while eating dinner, as the national news spoke optimistically about a new path to greater efficiency. Only when she was lying down in the dark bedroom did she tell him not to set the alarm because she didn’t have to get up early the next day. Her new life, without a job, had begun.

After cutting the workforce, the administrator at her Camagüey office hired a law firm to deal with legal matters. If before the company’s attorney had handled all the legal paperwork for only 500 Cuban pesos a month (less than 25 US dollars), now the company had to pay 2,000 pesos for the assistance of an outside institution. The arithmetic haunts the unemployed attorney because she can’t even console herself by knowing her dismissal make the company more profitable. Not only that, the most politically reliable and the director’s closest friends remained in their jobs. They managed to acquit themselves well declaring their incompetent bureaucrats, as if in reality they were directly linked to production. Thus, the Cuban Communist Party General Secretary appears now — to the eyes of possible inspectors — as if he were a lathe operator, when everyone knows he vegetates behind a desk piled high with old yellowed documents.

But the greatest anguish for this woman who has fallen into idleness is not the future of her state employer, but the direction her personal life will take. She has never done anything but fill out paperwork, write contracts, amend declarations. Her seventeen year professional life has been spent working for the government boss who, today, threw her out in the street. She knows nothing of hairdressing, nor of the manicure arts that might let her open her own beauty salon. She barely knows how to work a computer and speaks no other languages. Nor does she have the initial capital to open a coffee shop or to invest in breeding pigs. The only thing she’s good at is analyzing legal decrees and finding the loopholes in legal articles. In her case, the layoff is the end of her working life, her return to the kitchen. It is the perennial silence of the alarm that used to go off at six in the morning.


40 thoughts on “Layoffs and Farewells

  1. esta enferma, Yoani. Quien es su emplejadoro? La carretera de haiti es la futuro de policias de EU y Miami.

  2. Hopefully the current changes in Cuba will result in more of an uprising and demand for a new system, a system of democracy. The Castro brothers have lost control of their economy. They are at a loss. Their genius has been to keep people just on the other side of desperation.

  3. Elio estoy de acuerdo con su punto de vista pero por que uste insiste en publicar sus ideas en espanol, esta pagina es para los que leen en ingles.

  4. YOANI me recuedan ustedes nuetros comiensos(duros)en la oposision,mi novia x,era graduada de marxismo de la universidad de la havana,muy impresionada ella con nuetros actos en la canteras de san lazaro frente a la embajada de alemania el dia anterior, le pregunte sabes lo que sucedio anoche aqui?,no nose me respondio,le explique un grupo de jovenes vino anoche y protestaron y pusieron una corona de flores a JOSE MARTI,sorpresas que me lleve la joven no se conmovio,me respondio, esta bien,ellos tambien tienen,derechos pero me impresiona que se arriesguen tanto,no pude soportar mis impulsos y le confese yo fui uno de ellos,no lo quiso creer le mostre mis papeles por los que fui sancionado,al igual que mi carnet de identidad que en aquel entonces ella seguridad del estado para indentificarno,puso en la ultima hoja la palabra CIRP esto queria decir,CONTRA LA INTEGRIDAD REVOLUCIONARIA DEL PAIS,desde ese dia tenia una novia”marxista”,mi difunta madre como siempre me dijo confio que sepas donde y conquien te metes,mi novia x ,fue mi util para nuestra causa ademas,encargada del transporte de mi informacion hacia los canales previos del envio hacia curso fuera de cuba,muy buena y leal ella tambien junto a mi difunta madre me despidieron aquella noche ,septiembre 19 1989,la ultima noche que vi a my progenitora,aquella noche fue la inolvidable de toda mi existencia porque le dije MIRA (mimi,asi le decia a mi madre) estos hijos de putas(me referia a los comunistas,porque mucho hechos acontecian internacionalmente,y pensabamos que todo cambiaria en cuba)no van durar mucho,yo regreso en 5 aos,desde entonces no veo el dia de poner una flor y darle un beso a la tumba de mi madre.Yoani continuen de ustedes es este momento no dejen escape de sus manos.saludos a las (nuestras madres)elio de usa con amor

  5. Yoani graciaas a todos ustedes,cada uno de uds,forman esa gran ola de necesaria informacion que alimenta el espiritu patriota que llevamos dentro,todos ustedes son muy valiosos e importantes para el momento historico de de cuba,.Recuerden que cuando se derrumbo el imperio del mal que oprimia europa comunista,sus proximos presidentes,fueron aquellos opositores y disidentes,que sufrieron las prisiones y las censuras de sus totalitarios gobernantes,por ejemplo,havel fue preso politico y despues presidente,walesa del partido solidaridad en polonia,tambien fue presidente, no dejen ustedes juventud valiosa cubana escapar este momento historico que les ha reservado la historia,continuen enfrentando y denunciando al muostro en su guarida,ustedes son los DAVID contra el muostro,y como cuenta la historia con la ayuda de DIOS DAVID vencio,la vida e historia a cada uno de nosotros nos puso la oportunidad de aportar cuanto podiamos y pienso que asi lo hicimos y lo continuaremos haciendo hasta ver una cuba libre donde como tu dices la gente inteligente y valiente no tenga que immigrar,a ustedes todos felicidades por sus ideas constructivas y humanas que el creador los ilumine y cuide.Mis respetos y saludos a cada uno de usa con amor elio esquivel

  6. I can help but notice the great pictures Lazo takes, most of the times go w/the title.
    The “red” carpet, leading to the far end of a street, only partially, while life goes on … the carpet ends by nearly a block.
    It seems the farewell is closer yet not as close as we may wish.
    “The most politically reliable” now that’s a phrase perhaps not original but it demonstrates the sometimes used (well) double speak needed to survive in that society.
    Just think, a lot of the people who todays “support” the rebolution will be the first to shout (loudly mind you) their joy for the freedoms that waits them & the future granted by their liberty.
    At that time lets not forget, some survive by apparent agreement w/the rebolutionary companeros, some keept their mouth shut and very few spoke out.
    At the end everyone but the murders & criminals who used & abused the people will be accountable, the others … whe the time of revriminations come their concience will haunt them & their fear will be to be found out while excusing themselves by saying: “I had to survive …”

  7. Colon’s comments are consistent with the current campaign of the castro government to defame Yoani. He’s even using the agreed upon tactic which is to bring attention to her supposed “wealth”. These guys are so transparent and guileless, just a bunch of repetitous myna birds.

  8. Colin you said “she has more money than she knows what to do with”= MILLIONAIRE
    “I must say that the photos in #16 are consistent with what I was told.”= CHISME
    Very subtle approach, but still and attempt at DEFAMATION!

  9. Big difference between calling someone a “millionaire” – which I didn’t so why use that term? – and saying that she is clearly not as downtrodden as she portrays herself. Nor did I bemoan that she is clearly well off financially.

  10. Colin,

    If having a beer (Bucanero Beer not Bucanera) in your hand makes you a millionaire then Cuba, The USA and almost all the world’s countries would be filled with MILLIONAIRES!! Love the way you brought in the “Chisme” about the amount of MONEY Yoani has! Remember, she DID NOT apply for these Prizes, they were GIVEN to her by the World Community and if it comes with some DOUGH, more power to her! I think I got you pegged C.O.L.I.N. , now I think that is 5 letters if I remember my Integral Calculus Math Correct!!

  11. “I think you are right Humberto. It appears the morons at MININT can only come up with 4 and 5 letter names.”

    Actually first time I have viewed this site. I was recently in Havana where Yoani Sanchez was pointed out to me with the comment (by another Cuban) that “she has more money than she knows what to do with”. So was interested in seeing what she writes. I must say that the photos in #16 are consistent with what I was told. Her Bucanera drinking, notebook computer and hotel dining does seem a little at variance from the downtrodded imagery of her blog. I am very pleased that she has both the money and freedom to live in that way but so much for the propaganda.


    Ray Fernández, un trovador de válida controversia que desde su guitarra se hace sonero y desde el son y el changüí nos devuelve la trova… conjuga el tiempo esperado para este disco y nos demuestra que la “Paciencia” mecece el sabor de ser escuchada varias veces:

    VIDEO AND LYRICS: Lucha tu yuca Taino – en vivo acoustico tu Yuca
    Letra y Música de Raymundo Fernández Moya

    Lucha tu yuca Taíno, lucha tu yuca,
    lucha tu yuca Taíno, lucha tu yuca,
    que el cacique delira, que está que preocupa,
    tú, Taíno, tú lucha tu yuca.

    El cacique mandó montones a contar,
    a la tribu, quiere censar,
    el bohío que ocupas tú, prepárale un ritual,
    no sea que lo declaren ilegal.

    Que la jugada está apretá,
    todo el caney lo sabe,
    que no abunda el taparrabo
    y no alcanza el casabe
    que está cara la magia y más la medicina,
    ¡Ay! que se nos prostituyen las taínas.

    Y que trabaja, trabaja como suda el indito
    y la tribu vive al margen del delito,
    que él no calla al cacique, no les sacia el apetito
    que te está poniendo en fula el areito.

    Hay huracán, macana y un trozo de cabuya
    y un humito de cohíba pa´ mabuya,
    reunión al desfile, que ya tocan el fotuto,
    que el cacique tiene el power,
    que el cacique tiene el power…

    Pero tú…
    Tú lucha tu yuca Taíno, lucha tu yuca,
    lucha tu yuca Taíno, lucha tu yuca,
    que el cacique delira, que está que preocupa,
    tú, Taíno tú, lucha tu yuca.

    Ay trabaja, trabaja, cómo suda el indito
    al que todavía pagan con espejitos
    en las horas de ocio juega al Batos un poquito
    porque está caro, muy caro,
    porque está caro, muy caro,
    el areito.

    Pero tú lucha tu yuca Taíno, lucha tu yuca,
    lucha tu yuca Taíno, lucha tu yuca,
    que el cacique delira, que está que preocupa,
    tú Taíno, tú lucha tu yuca.

    Hay huracán, macana y un trozo de cabuya
    y un humito de cohíba pa´ mabuya
    reunión al desfile, que ya tocan el fotuto,
    que el cacique tiene el power,
    que el cacique tiene el power,

    Y yo no como, no como si no me dan otra cosa,
    ya no soporto el picadillo de tiñosa,
    sobre todo cuando veo comiendo al que no es de aquí
    un jugoso filete de manatí

    …Tú, tú lucha tu yuca Taíno, lucha tu yuca,
    lucha tu yuca Taíno, lucha tu yuca,
    que el cacique delira, que está que preocupa,
    tú, Taíno tú, lucha tu yuca,
    lucha tu yuca.

    Que la jugada está apretá,
    todo el caney lo sabe,
    que no abunda el taparrabo
    y no alcanza el casabe
    que está cara la magia y más la medicina,
    ¡Ay! que se nos prostituyen las taínas.

    Y que trabaja, trabaja como suda el indito
    y la tribu vive al margen del delito,
    que él no calla al cacique, no les sacia el apetito
    que te está poniendo en fula el areito.

    Pero tú lucha tu yuca Taíno, lucha tu yuca,
    lucha tu yuca Taíno, lucha tu yuca,
    que el cacique delira, que está que preocupa,
    tú Taíno, tú lucha tu yuca.

    Hay huracán, macana y un trozo de cabuya
    y un humito de cohíba pa´ mabuya,
    reunión al desfile, que ya tocan el fotuto,
    que el cacique tiene el power…
    que el cacique tiene el power…


  13. ***
    HI IGOR–#19, #9. Good comments. Firing squad for the Castro brothers. Permit Cubans to do what ever jobs they want in a free economy. Don’t force Cubans to become whores and drug dealers. Welcome to freedom–brave Eastern European. I liked the “solutions” your countrymen applied to the evil government in your country.
    HOLA IGOR–#19, #9. Buen commentario. Escuadra de tirar por los hermanos Castros. Permite los Cubanos trabajar en cualquier quieren en una economia libre. No forza los Cubanos ponerses putas o vendedores de drogas. Bienvenidos a la libertad–valiente Europeo del este. Me gusto los “soluciones” que sus paisanos applicaban al gobierno malo en su pais.
    John Bibb

  14. yoani.voy hacer una comentario,sobre el pereformance que tuvo lugar en la havana,y todos se robaron la palabra de mi parte 100 puntos les quedo excelente,esa es la verdadera juventud que cuando sus derechos son violados sin vacilar ni temor alguno le arrebata a la carrona del estado lo que,jamas nadie podra quitar al ser humano,la libertad,la expersion,y sepan quien lo ha intentado (callar la palabra y violar derechos)recibe en pago respuesta energicas,de los que no callamos,ni tememos a las tortura prisiones,ni todas las intimidaciones de sus maquinarias represivas.hable ,griten,no tienen que temer,ni esperar que les den autorizacion para hablar,derrumben el muro del silencio estatal,en un estado de derechos,el voto es la palabra,en estado totalitario la palabra se impone como derecho.continuen con su rebelion pacifica ,no teman el verdugo saben que ustedes no estan solos,nosotros (como dijo el joven delperformance en el video)somos sus guardianes a distancia somos los viejos que un dia comensamos eso,estubimos en el lugar de ustedes cuando la historia nos aclamo,hoy ustedes son la continuidad nuestra,y miles los apoyamos moral y en cualquier via,no vacilen,el derecho es nuestro,continuen lo que un dia inicio boitell,valladares,zapata,farinas y todos los presos politicos,los que permanecen en cautiverio,no importa que un minusculo grupo nos rechase,que bueno esa es la democracia,la tolerancia,la pluralidad de las opiniones,en toda una inmensa masa de idea siempre hay detractores,les pido que no se detengan,los felicito por sus ideas,la libertad,no se mendiga,se conquista. mis saludos y respetos de usa con amor elio esquivel


    “If all goes well, the government by 2015 hopes 50 percent of the country’s five million-strong work force will have shifted to the private sector, compared to 824,000 at present.”

    “On making his job-slashing announcement, Valdes said the culling process was in the hands of a panel of experts from all walks of life in Cuba. “We must avoid infractions, paternalism, favoritism and any other negative tendency,” he said.”

    AFP: Cubans fret as massive job cuts get under way-By Rigoberto Diaz
    HAVANA — Leticia Albert is a nurse at a Havana geriatrics center, pulling in just enough to keep her family afloat and worrying what the future will hold if her job will be next on the chopping block.

    “What’s coming isn’t going to be easy. Where will I go? Besides the concern, I see a lot of uncertainty,” the 40-year-old told AFP as the first of half a million government job cuts got underway this week.

    Although she complains about her low salary — 20 dollars per month — Leticia worries her job is on the line at the Old Havana Geriatrics Center that hired her only four years ago, thinking the government layoff policy is based on job seniority.

    Five colleagues were let go a few months ago when the facility first started downsizing. And while management has yet to announce more layoffs, everybody knows “the second round will be bigger,” she said.

    “They’ve got to announce it at a meeting with the workers, and that hasn’t happened yet. But we know they’re going to get rid of a lot of staff.”

    Like thousands of other Cubans, Leticia’s worries began in October when President Raul Castro announced a series of economic reforms to bring the communist regime up to date.

    Pivotal to the changes is cutting more than a million government jobs, or 20 percent of Cuba’s entire work force, over the next three years — including 22,000 jobs in the health sector. Castro said 500,000 jobs would have to go by March 31 of this year.

    The first culling of so-called “bloated payrolls” dragging down the Cuban economy began Tuesday in the sugar, farming, construction, health and tourism sectors, as announced by Salvador Valdes, the head of Cuba’s only labor union CTC.

    “We’re not nervous, but certainly worried. It’s not something you can just ignore… nobody knows who it’s going to touch,” said Yanelys Coello, a cashier at the El Escorial cafe, in Havana’s historical center, where nobody so far has been fired.

    Rolando Garrido, 34, is a doorman at the cafe. He got his agronomy degree in 1995 and shares in the collective concern, but is somewhat optimistic about finding another job.

    “There are thousands of unemployed, but I’m well adapted because I can work anywhere. In the worst scenario, I can always go back to farming,” he said with a smile.

    On making his job-slashing announcement, Valdes said the culling process was in the hands of a panel of experts from all walks of life in Cuba. “We must avoid infractions, paternalism, favoritism and any other negative tendency,” he said.

    Castro launched a media drive to justify the reforms he said are necessary to improve the efficiency of Cuba’s economy, currently 90 percent controlled by the government.

    The president vowed that no worker would be “left out.”

    “In 2011… it’s crucial we should continue dealing with all our domestic problems with hard work, the right measure of harshness, but without becoming apocalyptic,” Castro said Wednesday from the pages of the official Granma daily.

    Alexis Vargas, 42, is a bricklayer waiting for his local union to announce its list of layoffs. But he is not worried.

    “I’ve got a job anywhere,” he said, referring to the labor shortage in farming and construction.

    As part of the economic reforms the Cuban Communist Party Congress will debate in April, Castro also announced a significant growth of the private sector; the government plans to issue some 180 licenses for small- and medium-sized businesses.

    If all goes well, the government by 2015 hopes 50 percent of the country’s five million-strong work force will have shifted to the private sector, compared to 824,000 at present.

  16. WALL STREET JOURNAL: So Much For Cuban Economic Reform -The Communist Party affirms that ‘central planning and not the market will be supreme.’ -By JOSé AZEL

    With his characteristic intellectual wit, Cuban writer Carlos Alberto Montaner defines communism as “the time countries waste between capitalism and capitalism.” By this account, the Cuban government is now in its 52nd year of wasted time waiting for prosperity.

    Much has been made of economic reforms promised by Raúl Castro, including by the Cuban president himself. “We can either rectify the situation,” Gen. Castro recently stated, “or we will run out of time walking on the edge of the abyss, and we will sink.” But one look at the economic platform for the VI Congress of the Communist Party of Cuba, now scheduled for April 2011, and it’s clear nothing much will change.

    The “Draft Guidelines for Economic and Social Policy”—a 32-page document that proposes to chart Cuba’s economic future—affirms that “the new economic policy will correspond with the principle that only socialism [i.e., Cuban communism] is capable of conquering the difficulties.”

    The document persistently emphasizes Gen. Castro’s militaristic themes of increased efficiency, discipline and control. It insists, for example, on setting prices according to the dictates of central planning. It also insists that any new “nonstate” (private sector) economic activities not be allowed to lead to the “concentration of property” (that is, the accumulation of wealth). There is no interest in introducing the market socialism of a Deng Xiaoping, who famously told China’s people in 1984 that “to get rich is glorious.”

    It is not surprising that Raúl and his fellow generals are more comfortable with the chain of command of a centrally planned economy than with the vicissitudes of a market economy. More baffling is their failure to understand core principles of economic development.

    After much debate and with trepidation, the Cuban economic “reformers” have decided to permit the 500,000 to 1,300,000 Cubans being fired from state jobs to solicit permits to become self-employed in certain activities. It is instructive to examine a handful of the 178 trades and professions that are supposed to help rescue the economy.

    Trade No. 23 will be the purchase and sale of used books. Trade 29 is an attendant of public bathrooms (presumably for tips); 34 is a palm-tree pruner (apparently other trees will still be pruned by the state). Trade 49 is covering buttons with fabric; 61 is shining shoes; 62 is cleaning spark plugs; 69 is a typist; 110 is the repair of box springs (not to be confused with 116, the repair of mattresses). Trade 124 is umbrella repairs; 125 is refilling of disposable cigarette lighters; 150 is fortune-telling with tarot cards; 156 is being a dandy (technical definition unknown, maybe a male escort?); 158 is peeling natural fruit (separate from 142, selling fruit in kiosks).

    This bizarre list of permitted private-sector activities will not drive economic development. But it does reveal the regime’s totalitarian mindset. Here Cuban technocrats foreshadow the degree of control they intend to impose by listing the legal activities with specificity. These are not reforms to unleash the market’s “invisible hand” but to reaffirm the Castros’ clenched fist. One does not have to be an economist to appreciate that the refilling of disposable cigarette lighters, for example, will not contribute in any measure to economic development.

    In his economic dream land of surrealist juxtapositions, Raúl believes that improved state management is the way to save the communist system. The desire for control by the military and the Communist Party of every aspect of Cuban life is antithetical to the individual liberty and empowerment necessary to bring about an economic renaissance.

    Mr. Azel, a senior scholar at the Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies, University of Miami, is author of “Mañana in Cuba” (Authorhouse, 2010).


    WASHINGTON POST: U.S. religious leaders to appeal to Cuba to free Potomac contractor Alan Gross-By Mary Beth Sheridan and Tara Bahrampour-January 10

    At first, the arrest of a U.S. government contractor in Cuba seemed like just one more irritant in a tense bilateral relationship. But 13 months later, Alan P. Gross is still in prison, his family in the Washington area is desperate, and his detention has emerged as a major obstacle to progress between the former Cold War enemies.
    On Tuesday morning, 17 religious leaders, including Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl, the highest-ranking Roman Catholic prelate in Washington, will hold a prayer service to appeal for a break in a case that has become more intractable than virtually anyone expected.

    “We’d love to have this lead to his freedom,” said the Rev. Clark Lobenstine, executive director of the InterFaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington, which organized the event.

    “Nothing else has.”

    Gross was picked up while working to provide satellite-phone and computer gear to Cuban Jews to help them communicate with Jews abroad. It was part of a controversial, secretive American democracy-promotion program that mushroomed under the George W. Bush administration.

    Some Cuban officials have alleged that Gross is a spy, but the U.S. government has strongly denied that. He has not been charged.

    The prayer service, at 9:45 a.m. at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Northwest Washington, occurs as State Department officials are in Cuba to attend the latest in a series of periodic meetings on migration. They will once again press for Gross’s freedom, State Department officials said.

    The contractor’s detention has ended a thaw in relations with Cuba that occurred after the Obama administration took office. U.S. officials have put on hold plans to make it easier for U.S. religious, cultural and sports groups to visit Cuba.

    Increasing such “people-to-people programs” is “still our objective,” Arturo Valenzuela, assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs, said last week.

    However, “we’ve made it clear to the Cuban authorities that it’s very difficult to move to greater engagement in the context where they have continued to hold Alan Gross,” he said at the Brookings Institution.

    Gross, who lived in Potomac with his wife and has two daughters, traveled for years to the Middle East, Africa and other places to work on development projects. But the 61-year-old contractor appeared oblivious to the dangers involved when he started doing U.S. democracy-promotion work in Cuba, friends and family say.

    It is illegal under Cuban law to bring satellite phone equipment to Cuba without a permit, something that apparently did not trouble Gross.

    “It has been an extraordinarily difficult year,” his wife, Judy, said in an e-mail. “Our 26-year-old daughter is fighting breast cancer. We have had to move out of our family home, and we have endured endless fear of what may happen to Alan.”

    U.S. officials say Gross has received adequate food and medical care while in Villa Marista, the Cuban state security prison. But, troubled by gout and other illnesses, he has shed almost 90 pounds from his original 250. His wife said she was even more concerned about his mental health.

    “He has endured so much being held in captivity for over a year, with no idea what will happen to him,” she said in the e-mail. “And now, with our daughter’s cancer diagnosis, he feels like a caged lion.”

    A spokesman at the Cuban Interests Section, the country’s de facto embassy in Washington, declined to comment on the case.

    Gross worked as a subcontractor for Bethesda-based Development Alternatives, which was hired by the U.S. Agency for International Development after it received a flood of money from the Bush administration for democracy promotion in Cuba.

    “We’re sort of in disbelief that this has not been resolved,” the company’s president, James Boomgard, said of Gross’s case.

    Gross’s arrest cast a spotlight on a program that has been criticized by Democrats as wasteful and overly politicized. USAID said in a statement that it continued to carry out democracy programs in Cuba “to empower Cuban civil society to advocate for greater democratic freedoms and respect for human dignity.”

    But under congressional pressure, oversight has strengthened and some practices have changed, officials say. For example, USAID programs no longer send satellite communications gear into Cuba, official say.

    Still, Cuba has not said what it will do with Gross.

    Ron Halber, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington, said organizers of the prayer service hope it will raise awareness of Gross’s plight among U.S. and Cuban officials. It is to include religious leaders from Buddhist, Hindu, Islamic, Jewish, Protestant and other faiths.

    “The State Department has been working very hard, but still, there’s a man from our community here in Washington who remains captured, who remains incarcerated in Cuba, and he hasn’t been told why,” Halber said.

  18. Castros’ ship is making water and it is in a lot of trouble as recognize by Raul. The regime is desperate for dollars and is trying by any means to put an end to the economic crisis. The regime hopes to lure the Obama administration to end the embargo and obtain millions of dollars in credits and keeps its control over the Cuban people. But it looks there isn’t enough time left for the brothers to calm the trouble waters.

  19. Dear Readers,

    Who cannot sympathize with anyone, who through no direct fault of their own, has lost their job? Yet, there is no such thing as consequence-free change.

    However, these drip, drip, drip “reforms” being attempted by the dictatorship in Habana really have only one goal: give the people as little freedom as possible as slowly as possible in order to keep the Cuban police state nomenclature in power.

    Gorbachev tried his Perstroika. He failed, but thank God he tried to “fix” the soviet system in the first place, and once he began the process the floodgates opened up and the rest is history.

    The totalitarian communists in Habana will fail too – all for the very same and very right reasons.

    Libertad o muerte.

  20. The uncertain future after years of subsidies & give aways have created a dependent generation.
    The changes necessary to move forwward are going to be painful but Cubans are survivors … they have (so far) survived this regime of false dreams, lies & forceful domination.
    Freedom will come … & all will be there to bring Cuba back.

  21. I have not heard anything about any efforts to create jobs to replace the jobs from the cuban buricracy …

  22. Maybe I became a conservative capitalist” after I spend half of my life under one of the cruelest communism regime from Eastern Europe. Eventually my people, my nation sent the president and its wife in front of a firing squad. That was how freedom and democracy was gained. So Dumbir have a look at Eastern’s Europe history for the last 100 years and you compare it with Cuba’s history. You will be amazed at some similarities and also you will understand that communism was forcefully transplated to many nations. A cancerous transplant !!!


  23. Once again, another illustration of the regime coming full circle and to make practice of a time honored accurrance in free societies: letting people go from their jobs. Not that this is an abnormal event, but the fact that the dynasty is making use of it, after fifty years of bragging and chastising the west for mistreating workers, they’re now abserved with their pants down, having to relieve themselves publically while the world watches. Not that they experience any shame. They’re too old and dementic, all sense of honor long ago gone.

    Regarding the link in 14 below, the funny thing about this regime and its thugs, they never stop using the same worn out cold war criminal practices that everyone recognizes, that is, character assessination and framing of opponents. I’m relieved that Yoani can go to the beach, buy vegetables and enjoy the company of friends. No, I don’t give the regime any credit for whatever joy she experiences because freedom, democracy and exorcismm from a fifty year decrepit dictatorship are still the priority, and whatever Yoani does to squeeze some joy out of life has nothing whatsoever to do with attaining those ultimate goals.

    I’m overjoyed she’s making as much money as the thug claims in the link, although I doubt the regime lets her make use of much of it.

    Veger, the deity of time will get you both, psychotic, criminal and senile old dictators. Time is on the side of us all and we’ll outlive you by decades!!!

  24. Damir 8:
    And jsy by looking at those “classsifieds” the team “yoani” provides on this site, calling them “Clasficados de Cuba”, one realises QUICKLY, what sort of “some kind of pragmatic capitalism” is that change: crime and anarchy. “Free” society, where anyone is free to be exploited, killed, incarcerated, or simply left to die on the street, unless they are “free” to kill and steal from others, in order to pay “freely” for the services that would keep them alive.

    People are free to choose. Somehow, the criminals are always better in convincing the gullible that what they offer is better.

    Just look at the bastion of “pragmatic capitalism” usa. Or the European tigre”, Ireland. A bankrupt failure of a “power economy of Europe, only a year or so ago…

    How good is the life for the people now?

    And they choose it “freely”…
    ++++++++++++++++++++++ = =

    Out of curiosity I came, to check out the English version of the famous blog Generacion Y, and what do I find? For starters, 14 comments Vs two thousand or so on the original Spanish version of Generacion Y. And then I see these comments, like the above as an example, and I realize that nobody is interested in reading that kind of crap. I mean, let’s get real. Nobody says that democracy is a perfect system, but to promote and “sell” a system that centralizes even the most private aspect of an “individual’s” life is a sick alternative to any freedom. Whomis this person kidding?

    I doubt I’ll be back, having seen the kind of cynism that takes place here by commentators like this “Colin” person, trying to justify a regime that has shown nothing but corruption, destruction and total lack of interest in its own peoples well being. Give me a break!!

  25. I think you are right Humberto. It appears the morons at MININT can only come up with 4 and 5 letter names. Our new contributor ‘colin’s” words seem to eminate the same rancid and fetid aroma as the resident village idiot dumbir. I think I will refer to them as small colon and large colon. Sort of a poetic homage to their glorious leader, the colon impaired and colostomy bag toting comandante.


  27. For many years those totally opposed to the current Cuban government bemoaned that virtually all Cubans worked for the state; that so few had private employment.
    Now that there will be significantly fewer working for the state there are protests from the same critics. What do they want – full employment and a situation where it is impossible to lose like your job like the USA?

    I have great sympathy for those affected by the new poicy and the uncertainty for all at the prospect of change.

    But the critics of the former status quo and these changes never seem to offer anything concrete as an alternative.

  28. It takes a conservative capitalist to say a horrible thing like the one in post 9.

    But, we already know that is what they are all about. Remember just a few posts back this very team “yoani” complaining about a housemaid living in a mansion while a rich plastic surgeon, by “yoani’s” own admission enriched through illegal activities, living in a small house in a ghetto somewhere?

    And what did this team of “freedom-fighters” propose?

    That a housemaid should be allowed to sell her big house to a rich doctor so that he can enjoy his illegaly acquired money!!!!

    The criminasl behind the team “yoani” forgot that a democratic and justice-inclined people would think about helping the housemaid get an education and a better job so that she can KEEP her mansion and maintain it to preserve it from degrading.

    No, she should be sent to live in the ghetto by the team “yoani”!!!!!!!

    THAT is the “freedom” and “democracy” the team “yoani” are offering to you.

    So, all those who naively believe that something would change and their lives get better under these wannabe dictators, should think hard and long before siding with them.

    If you make a deal with criminals, do not wonder when you get fleeced off by them. And do not come crying and screaming “I didn’t know they would lie to me!”

  29. So what is new here? Nothing really.

    How else to explain the statement in post 9? Distasteful and moronic as it is, that is what “pragmaitc capitalism” supporters are all about.

    The team “yoani” declared the same future for the people of Cuba, should the team “yoani” grab the power, a few posts ago, where they champion the idea that a housemaid living in a mansion “accidentally” should let it go and downsize to her status so that a crook doctor who filled his pockets performing private cosmetic operations can live in such a mansion.

    Simply because he can maintain it.

    Screw the housemaid. She cannot maintain it anyway with her meagre salary, so send her to getho, where she belong. THAT is what the team “yoani” is really about: recognise, encourage and nurture INEQUALITIES among the people. Not freedom or democracy. That (the freedom and democracy) is just a smoke for the weak and naive. For gullible believers in some justice somewhere.

    And that laid off woman too should suffer the same fate in the hands of the team “yoani, as suggested clearly in the post 9. As the idiot who wrote that post 9 said, she “should” become a prostitute.

    It is her destiny and perfectly in harmony with her social status.

    Probably so that the rich doctor can enjoy in his spare time, in his garden with petunias and orchids, while his wife is on holidays with her lover somewhere else.

    Long live private enterprise!!!!

  30. RADIO NETHERLANDS: The award of a Prince Claus Prize to Cuban blogger Yoani Sánchez carries a far-reaching significance, especially for the protection it offers her, says Dutch ambassador in Havana Ron Muijzert.

    He told Radio Netherlands Worldwide that the award ceremony on Friday evening was a simple affair in the embassy garden. There were about 80 guests, mostly family and friends of Ms Sánchez, some of her fellow bloggers, and diplomat colleagues of Mr Muijzert. “I tried not to overplay it,” explained the ambassador.

    The authorities
    As predicted, the award of the prize to Ms Sánchez did not go down well with the authorities. She was not allowed to travel to the Netherlands to witness the main Prince Claus Prize being awarded to the Algerian publishing house, Barzakh.

    The subsidiary prizes are always awarded in the recipients’ countries, but all the prize winners are invited to the main award ceremony which takes place in The Hague.

    Mediocre journalism
    Mr Muijzert decided against inviting Cuban officials to the award ceremony at the embassy in Havana. He knew from experience that none would come. It’s the third year in a row that he has had an award ceremony at the embassy in Havana. Last year, a prize went to arts critic Desiderio Navarro and the year before to performance artist Tania Braguera.

    Cuban officials had been sent invitations to the 2008 and 2009 ceremonies but didn’t turn up because former Prince Claus Prize winner Dagoberto Valdés Hernández was present. He had won the award in 1999 and is considered a dissident by the authorities. He attended the award ceremony again this year.

    The Cuban administration has been curiously silent about this year’s award to Ms Sánchez. Mr Muijzert has only had an informal response from a senior civil servant, who said he found it a pity that the Netherlands was honouring “such a mediocre journalist”.

    Ms Sánchez has gathered a host of other Cuban bloggers around her whom she trains. Many of them were at the embassy for the award ceremony.
    Mr Muijzert stresses that the Prince Claus Prize isn’t a human rights award – it’s a prize for outstanding work in the area of arts and culture. It’s also not given out by the Dutch government. Still, he says, it is important. “All that international interest in her. Maybe it’s a bit over the top, but this kind of award offers a certain amount of protection. That’s how Yoani herself sees it, and I think that’s correct.”

    More political
    Ambassador Muijzert reads Ms Sánchez’ blog himself now and again. He says at first she wrote about everyday inconveniences, but gradually it became more political. He values her sharp wit. “In Cuba, you have to maintain your sense of humour. Luckily, most Cubans have. As far as that’s concerned, she’s part of a tradition.”

  31. Well, the laidoff woman in Yoani’s story should follow the path taken by many Cuban women which is prostitution, as there is nothing other solution. Dabmir could become the pimp in this “pragmatic capitalism” .

    PS: I wonder about the layoff package and welfare this woman will receive. If her salary was about $25/month will she recieve the same salary for the next 12 months and after that 60% of it for another 12 months or until she gets another job. In this rotten Canadian Capitalism we are entitled to recieve some form of assistance from our FREELY ELECTED GOVERNMENT.

  32. Another pathetic and misguinding comment by the team “yoani”. I am pleasantly surprised, every time they post, that they are still capable of coming up with more nonsense.

    For this one we need a really big alumbron here to help them understand the size of their own delusions.

    Layoffs are what their “pragmatic capitalism” will consist of.

    Let us look at Spain or Ireland, or England, not to mention the focus of all evil, teh dictatorship called the usa.

    Layoffs are what capitalists do. At a whim of their desire, one day youare in, the next you are out.

    How come in Cuba that is almost a crime in the eyes of the team “yoani”, yet, the millions just in the usa are out of work and somehow that is not a concern to them?

    After all, it is that “somehow pragmatic capitalism” (remember, that is what the team “yoani” calls for, and it is “her” own words I am quoting here) that the team “yoani” in their inept delusional state want to install in Cuba.

    Manipulating the emotions of their own compatriots, and playing with the words to make their lies appear as the truths of some higher order (anything is beter than “communism”), the team “yoani” uses simple and quite rudimentary lies to present the need for a change as if the whole world depends on Cuba changing the system.

    Sure, the changes are needed. Sooner the Castros are removed, the better.

    But that does not mean that the system is guilty. The system is actually a better option than what the team “yoani” advocates.

    The problem is that unless the system is changed, the criminals that are fighting for their share of the power and money, would have no chance to get that share.

    And jusy by looking at those “classsifieds” the team “yoani” provides on this site, calling them “Clasficados de Cuba”, one realises QUICKLY, what sort of “some kind of pragmatic capitalism” is that change: crime and anarchy. “Free” society, where anyone is free to be exploited, killed, incarcerated, or simply left to die on the street, unless they are “free” to kill and steal from others, in order to pay “freely” for the services that would keep them alive.

    People are free to choose. Somehow, the criminals are always better in convincing the gullible that what they offer is better.

    Just look at the bastion of “pragmatic capitalism” usa. Or the European tigre”, Ireland. A bankrupt failure of a “power economy of Europe, only a year or so ago…

    How good is the life for the people now?

    And they choose it “freely”…

  33. REUTERS: State Department has no info on Cuban “defector”

    MIAMI (Reuters) – The State Department has no information about the whereabouts or status of a leading Cuban government trade expert whom Miami media reports said had fled the communist-ruled island, a U.S. official said on Friday.

    Miami’s El Nuevo Herald newspaper and several Cuban-American websites reported that Pedro Alvarez, 67, the former head of Cuba’s state food importing company Alimport and a key figure in legal Cuban purchases of U.S. farm products over the last decade, had defected to the United States.

    In response to questions about the reports, a U.S. official who spoke on condition of anonymity said: “We have no information regarding his whereabouts or his status”.

    The official gave no other details and did not specify if other U.S. agencies might have information about Alvarez.

    In Havana, Cuban authorities and state-run media made no mention of the reports from Miami, which said Alvarez had escaped from the Caribbean island in the final days of 2010 and had been under investigation in Havana for alleged corruption.

    Alvarez was a well known figure to those U.S. businessmen and politicians who since 2000 promoted U.S. cash sales of agricultural products to Cuba under an authorized exception in the almost five-decades-old trade embargo against the island.

    These sales, which Alvarez negotiated for years in his role as Alimport head, reached a record of $710 million in 2008, making the United States Cuba’s single largest food provider.

    U.S. exports to Cuba include corn, wheat, chicken, soybeans and powdered milk.

    But these U.S. farm sales to Cuba have since fallen off sharply as the cash-strapped Cuban government of President Raul Castro cut imports and bought from allies and other countries offering credit and easier terms.

    Alvarez, a career official in Cuba’s Foreign Trade Ministry left his Alimport position last year to head the Cuban Chamber of Commerce, but was then replaced and put under investigation for alleged corruption, the Miami media reports said.

    “Pedro Alvarez was a key figure in the commercial relations established between Cuba and the United States for the sale of U.S. agricultural products authorized by Congress in 2002,” Wilfredo Cancio, an analyst of Cuban affairs in Miami, said.

    “At the head of Alimport, he set up the Cuban government’s strategic platform for this business with U.S. companies to also act as a factor of political pressure against the embargo,” Cancio told Reuters. His web site also carried the report of Alvarez’ defection.

    Cancio said Alvarez would have previously enjoyed high-level access to the Cuban leadership. If confirmed, his would be the highest-level defection since former deputy foreign minister Alcibiades Hidalgo fled the island in 2002.

    The original report of Alvarez’ flight came from Cuban American journalist and blogger, Oscar Suarez, who said he received the information from a Central American source. Suarez said Alvarez had phoned his mother-in-law from an undisclosed location to say “I’m not going back (to Cuba)”.

    The same reports said Alvarez’ wife, Olga de la Cruz, had been killed in a plane accident in Cuba in November, in which 68 Cubans and foreigners died.

    (Reporting by Pascal Fletcher in Miami and Arshad Mohammed in Washington, editing by Anthony Boadle)


    GACETTA DE CUBA: Premio Claus a Yoani Sánchez con fotos de Orlando Luis Pardo
    GDC, enero 08 – Ayer en la noche la conocida blogger cubana Yoani Sánchez recibió el premio Príncipe Claus en la embajada holandesa de La Habana. En la ceremonia de premiación Yoani estuvo acompañada de numerosos colegas, de opositores al régimen gobernante y de diplomáticos extranjeros.

    Yoanis leyó un discurso optimista donde soñó con la posibilidad futura de hacer un periodismo libre dentro de la isla.

    El fotógrafo Orlando Luis Pardo aprovechó para tomar fotos de algunos de los asistentes a la ceremonia de premiación.

    Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez received this Friday at the Dutch embassy in Havana Prince Claus Award which was awarded last year in Holland by the foundation that bears the same name.The award is given annually to artists, intellectuals and cultural organizations that are distinguished in their respective countries to proclaim liberty and to resist authoritarianism. Sanchez was unable to travel to Amsterdam on 17 December to receive the prize because the authorities on the island did not get the permit (white card) to leave the island.

  36. Acceptance Speech for Prince Claus Award / Yoani Sánchez

    Good afternoon everyone:
    To the Dutch ambassador who has kindly offered his home for the ceremony, to the members of the Prince Claus Foundation who organized the presentation of this award, to the diplomatic corps, to my family, my friends, to the bloggers present here and also to the readers, commentators and translators of my blog who join in this moment from cyberspace. A special greeting to the other 2010 winners of this important award. In short, to everyone, I thank you for your physical, virtual or spiritual presence on this day.

    The words I say to you this afternoon are imbued — in part — with the experiences I have had in the last three years, since April 2007, when I started to write my blog, Generation Y. I could dedicate long minutes of this speech to emphasizing the scenes that make up what I call “my path of pain”; this tortuous trail I’ve traveled, determined to live freely in a country full of masks. I could also tell a pitiful tale of stigmatization, of constantly being watched, of pressure on my family and demonization of my community, of police citations and even physical attack.

    But I will not focus on those obstacles, but on the other path, that of the gratification and the gift of personal fulfillment, and on future projects. This beautiful part of the journey that begins when I go out into the street and someone — overcoming their fear — approaches me and says, “I read you,” “keep going,” “resist.”

    I also have the gratification, every day, of a growing number of my fellow citizens who seek my opinions, debate with me, or sympathize with my point of view. And now, more and more, they use the tool of a blog to express, in the virtual Cuba, the differences of opinion still penalized in the real Cuba. This path of professional and civic growth is one I want to share with others.

    The Prince Claus Award is an award that looks forward, a stimulus that invites dreams and the setting of higher goals. This year, 2011, could be the stage to realize some journalistic challenges that I have fantasized about for a long time.

    Our Island is desperate for arguments, debates and information. We cannot simply denounce intolerance, describe what doesn’t work, or point fingers at what we don’t like. It is time to begin to change. For those of us who reject another cycle of frustration and tension, who reject the mistrust looming over us, it is also time to do something, however small.

    I like to work with the written word and with news and I feel my place is appropriately in kilobytes, pages of newspapers, a mouse and a keyboard. This does not mean I am going to lock myself in the ivory tower and write, quite the opposite.

    Words do not always behave like barricades or like thrown paving stones; fortunately words also behave like an effective balsam on a distressed nation. I believe in the medicine of free information, and in the imperfect democracy we Cubans will, one day, manage to put into practice in our country. I am a dreamer, I know, but so are all of you here… and we are not alone.

    This year new cracks will appear in the state monopoly on information. Any provincial blogger armed with a mobile phone could jeopardize official newspapers and could transmit his words, photos, audio and video direct to the Web. I like to say — half joking, half seriously — that if Cubans can invent ground beef with no beef in it, as we did during the most difficult years of the Special Period when banana skins became meat, we can invent an Internet without the Internet.

    With those little cellular gadgets, we have learned to send and receive the total spectrum of information from this Island. I feel I am also a missionary of the creed of spreading knowledge and tools that make us free throughout the whole Island. Because each one of us can become our own press agency, without bosses or censors.

    I have dedicated recent months to this, through the magnificent experience of an academy with 27 students, five professors, workshops, thematic conferences, and advice and support for those who have recently opened a space on the web. In the coming months, I intend to extend the reach of these courses. The blogger virus will ultimately infect thousands of Cubans.

    A more difficult dream — and so a more recurring one — is the creation of a new media outlet. Many who are here today, though they may not know it, are the future editors, photographers and correspondents of this newspaper. Without all of you, it will not be possible. Without the talent and energy that can infuse the pages of this planned information space, it will all remain the fantasy of one small blogger.

    So these few words are also to say to you: Help me, join me in this unpredictable adventure of empowering ourselves as citizens, of behaving as free people in a country full of fear, without losing our way on the path of differences that feed our pluralism, and avoiding the known error of unanimity. There is room for everyone in this project. What’s more, without you I could not accomplish it.

    Thank you very much,

    Yoani Sánchez
    Havana, January 7, 2011

  37. “..a process that “will be free of favouritism, nepotism and paternalism”.”
    “..a process that “will be free of favouritism, nepotism and paternalism”.”
    “..a process that “will be free of favouritism, nepotism and paternalism”.”

    THE TELEGRAPH UK: Cuba lays-off state workers in privatisation drive -Cuba has begun the process of laying-off a tenth of its state workforce in a drive to push employees into small businesses that could mark the beginning of the end of the 50-year communist experiment on the island.

    The state labour union announced this week that the first of some 500,000 employees could expect to receive “pink slips” immediately, effectively terminating their employment in the public sector where, until now, almost 90 per cent of Cuba’s workforce have been employed.

    The lay-offs will begin in the ministries of agriculture, sugar, construction, health and tourism, according to Salvador Valdes, the leader of the Workers’ Central Union of Cuba (CTC). Workers, who on average earn a monthly wage of $20 (£13), were told to expect compensation of one month’s salary for every ten years on the job.

    Committees have been set up in each workplace to draw up the list of those jobs to be cut, the CTC said – a process that “will be free of favouritism, nepotism and paternalism”.

    The move is part of a raft of economic reforms announced by President Raul Castro last September designed to kick-start the private sector in a bid to keep the ailing economy afloat.

    The elimination of half a million state jobs by March comes with a drive to open up the private sector with Cubans encouraged to set up small businesses in activities that were once off limits to the labour force of five million.

    More than 30,000 Cubans have already received licences to work privately as restaurateurs, mechanics, street vendors and hairdressers.

    But the regime insists it is staying true to its socialist ideals with the imposition of steep taxes on earnings and the hiring of new employees to prevent accumulation of private wealth within the population of 12m on the Caribbean island.

    In a speech to the national assembly last month Raúl Castro, who officially took over as president from his ailing brother Fidel in February 2008, defended his effort to reorient the workforce.

    “The strategic economic changes are being made to sustain socialism,” he said. “They are to preserve and strengthen socialism, so as to make it irrevocable.”

    He emphasised the need to streamline the public sector. “Many Cubans confuse socialism with handouts and subsidies,” he said.

    Mr Castro’s comments followed the admission made by 84-year-old Fidel in a rare interview to an American magazine that “the Cuban model doesn’t even work for us anymore.”

  38. Sorry, in the Spanish Blog when the moderadors Don”like the comments they …without
    no reazon…Just Cancelled! Cuban Style.SHAME on This Peoplo!….This is U.S.A. “not CUBA”

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