Go Bankrupt or Prosper…

For those who grew up in a country where the state, for decades, has been the monopoly employer, to be forced to make a living independently is like jumping into the void. Thus, workers are overcome with fear, lately, as they await the publication of the dreaded list of names of those who will lose their jobs. Not only do fears flourish, but also opportunism and favoritism. The decision of who will keep their places and who will not is made by the directors of each workplace and we already know about cases where it is not the most capable to remain, but those closest to the director. Ironically, the positions they are trying to keep are underpaid, and the loss of a quarter of the workforce does not mean — for now — a salary increase for those who stay.

Downsizing meetings occur in every workplace, even in such sensitive sectors as Public Health. These meetings decide something more important than monthly salaries or belonging to a certain company or institution. It is also a time when people’s eyes are opened to a different Cuba, where the premise of full employment is not proclaimed to the four winds and where working for oneself appears as a bleak and uncertain option. Some exchange the white coat for barber’s scissors, or the syringe for an oven where they bake pizza and bread. They will learn about the inevitable march from economic independence to political independence, they will go bankrupt or prosper, they will lie on their tax returns or honestly report how much they have earned. In the end, they will embark on a new and difficult path, where Papa state cannot support them, but nor will he have the power to punish them.


28 thoughts on “Go Bankrupt or Prosper…

  1. No one has denied you your right of free expresion, I have only pointed out you lack of respect, arrogance & name calling.
    I will repeat myself:
    You have been outclassed & you don’t know it, you have been unmasked, give it a rest .. While at it think about your future prosperity & the chance of becoming bankrupt, there might not be a need for your special skills consecuently for your prosperity in the future of a free Cuba.
    In your job application & subsecuent interview I suggest you control your temper, decide carefully how you express yourself (perhaps record your voice & speech patterns) because the way you come accross as of now … you may find yourself sweeping empty buildings.

  2. How are the esbirros of the rebolution going to avoid been bankrupt let alone be prosperous?
    Their skills as betrayers of their people might not be enough forthem to get a job, their years of living off subsidies & hand outs from their masters.
    Your time w/no maybes about it is comming & tired people has a long memory when it comes to their tormentors.
    My suggestion is to strat making amends now because forgivenes might be scarce.
    Change is comming, you’ll have to choose, change your ways & find your conscience or suffer the consecuences of betraying your people I’ll say it again … your excuses Y blame placing might not work …

  3. #25 you can follow your own advice. If you don’t like what is being written by me or anyone else find your own blog. I would invite you to look back and see how many times you’ve posted, this is not my soap box or yours. Not you or anyone else is going to tell me what I can write or in what tone I should express myself. I repeat what I said before, you are clueless and your commentary is insipid and pointless. You can’t debate so you resort to branding me an agent of your revolution … pathetic.

  4. @#24
    like past agitators you miss the mark this blog is not yout soap box.
    W/the same style of other agitators but w/a slightly different approach, personal attacks, incendiary rethoric that is your substance, oh how I wish you read what you post before you do, it may do its contents some good.
    If you don’t like the contents of the blog, I like to remind you that no one is keeping you here. This blog belongs to Yoani we comment w/the intent of passing along information, & exchange ideas, we (I) don’t participate to fight usless fights, they do not solv anithing, especially in the spirit in qhich you are trying to “engage”
    Rant & rave as you will, I do believe you are one of the rebolution’s plant & urge everyone to mind themselves w/you w/that … case closed pal …

  5. #23 if you make a statement in a public forum you must be prepared to defend it and this is a public forum. Light weights like you and Mr. cut’n paste who can’t debate anyone always resort to platitudes and labeling people as being a provocateur or an agitator. I am a provocateur, I try to provoke debate and an exchange of ideas. If reading this blog only consisted of cut and paste articles and insipid comments it wouldn’t be worth participating. I won’t comment on your last little dig about whether I might be an agitator for your revolution. You are utterly clueless…

  6. @#22
    “Enjoing the fruits of free speech is a priviledge & a right but w/those benefits come the responsibility of having to defend your opinions & ideas”
    To defend one’s opinion & ideas is NOT a requirement it is a choice, a part of exercising that freedom.
    Under that guise: tolerance & understanding & perhaps agreeing to disagree must perhaps be part of a positive dialogue.
    If I didn’t choose as I do to use the benefit of a doubt, I would be inclined to believe you are by the pattern of thoughts to the expression & delivery of your comment another one of the agitators from the rebolution.
    I hope I did not offend your sensibilities by choosing to express my opinion of how you come across to me, perhaps you can understand the responses your comments get.

  7. Interesting how Mr. cut’n paste has to rely on others to defend and justify his statements. I am not surprised that scissor man can’t defend his own ideas he has shown that inability repeatedly. And then we have the idiot who claims that my comments incite violence. I suggest you take a remedial reading course and then come back and re-read my comments. The same genius who wrote the previous comment also suggests that poor Mr. cut’n paste is a victim of black and white thinking. I suppose you and Mr. cut’n paste are the real deep thinkers here … please. Your pseudo-philosophical comments are as deep as the puddle of water in your back yard.

    Most people who contribute here and are on the right side of the Cuba issue spend quite a bit of time and energy advocating for democracy and free speech for Cuba. Enjoying the fruits of free speech is a privilege and a right but with those benefits come the responsibility of having to defend your opinions and ideas. Challenging someone’s comment or idea is not only part of the democratic process, it is a vital part of that process. It is customary when competing ideas are voiced that the opposing parties explain, rationalize and advocate for their point of view. I believe some of you that post comments here haven’t got the foggiest notion of true free speech. What other conclusion can be reached when I question somebody’s comment looking for an explanation and that person not only cannot justify their position but others jump to his defense by claiming that his right to express himself has somehow been challenged or some other specious comment attempting to invalidate my questioning of him. Very disappointing, especially coming from those of you that have been educated and spent a lifetime living in democratic societies such as Canada and the US.

    There are many sides to the Cuba issue, it is simply not black and white as our esteemed “french” contributor rightly says. Most of us may want to resolve the situation in Cuba but we all don’t agree with how to go about doing it and what compromises would be acceptable. I stand firmly with those who will not vacillate, compromise, trade, negotiate or smoke a peace pipe with the tyrants. I do not apologize for that. If you wish to challenge my thinking on the subject please do so. I will be more than happy to detail my position chapter and verse. Ultimately you may not agree with me but you will know why I maintain that position. In the mean time forgive me if in the future you make a statement that I don’t agree with and ask you to justify your position. After all isn’t that what we all want for a Cuba with a free and open society?

    Freedom, you are very perceptive. You could say Yubano and I are very close. He stopped posting because he had some of his comments edited by the moderator. Yubano feels, as I do that editing someone’s comments without that persons consent is a form of censureship, and censureship of any kind is unacceptable … even when the commentary in question is asinine, irrelevant, offensive or politically motivated.

  8. Love Cuba, Albert and John Two! Thanks for all your support, although I am a big internet boy! One thing that is very interesting to me and throws a flag is personal attacks by a “New Member” posting. I think others have explained my point better than I. So good to have informed and intelligent brothers and sisters.

    John Two- “Mazorra, 3 of the 5 Cuban spies were given reduced sentences and it is my understanding that with time already served are due to be released in the next few years anyway and thereafter expelled from the US. Trading and repatriating foreign agents is an accepted part of international diplomacy.”

    Love Cuba- “Mazorra, your points about Mr. Gross are well taken. But I will try to prevent a flame war here and say that Humberto’s views come from human compassion.”

    Albert- “So inciting violence for violence sake or coming to rash decisions is not the way #5.
    Think about what you are saying, I beseach you … unless you are a disguised provocateur in which case, I’ll only thank you for your comments.”

  9. At the risk of appearing to take the moral high ground, I agree with much of what is being said below on both sides by Love Cuba, Mazorra John Two, Freedom, Albert and Capiro.

    On the one hand, the business of spying is not exactly squeaky clean. There are all kinds of transactions that take place under the table, out of everyone’s sight in the shadows. During the cold war, much of this went on unnoticed. But we now know after the facts, the horrors and butchery committed by these savage dictators in the name of some unproven ideology. This is not Monday morning quarterbacking, we have all the facts, the audio videos, witness testimonies of what this criminals and their clone thugs are capable of.

    On balance, and given the viciousness of the Castro-fascist regime when dealing with oponents, I would err on the side of caution and in order to dissuade wherever possible future acts of savagery by regime thugs, I would not release these goons in exchange for Gross under any circumstance. I would let them rot in jail til they pay their debt to society in accordance with the law. In fact, I might consider them enemy combatants and send them to Guantanamo so as to put fear in the hearts of these otherwise aloof and unthinking clones of the regime. Don’t forget that as Tato Fontes says, all opposers of the regime are “mercenaries”. This implies that they are committing treason which is even worse than an enemy combatant.

    Gross knew what he was doing. He was assisting people of his own faith, knew the risks and mindlessness of this type of dictator and he made his choice. Let us hope that the regime is shown the facts and proven wrong and that international pressure is brought to bear for his release.

    On a separate note, to Capiro: this blog has rules and a moderator. You are free to state your viewpoints and opinions so long as you don’t trample someone else’s rights. The right of readers to view this forum without going over multiple pages of news items of which we may already be aware is one that you may want to keep in mind.

  10. @#15
    Thinking w/the heart, whereas is or not right it does not matter, we are all entitled to our free opinion … period.
    Lets look at the whole picture rather bickering.
    To plant the seeds of discord is one of the aims of the rebolution …
    Are we going to play their game?

  11. #16
    The term I used I think was not appropriate. Let me be clear on this: Allan Gross, at least for me, is not a spy, he is victim of the Cuban regime.

  12. Humberto:
    some people thinks issues are cut & dry, guess what? they are not, everything is interrelated, issues are locked & related to each other to form the reality within a context.
    Some people do have a problem realizing it & generally is them who think struggles for feedom only involve individual freedoms when it does not.
    The quest for freedom is more that blacks& white definitions, it deals w/the improbable nature of people.
    The experience of some (mine) is defined by the total picture or as much I can see nevertheless I would not jump to a judgement.
    I concur w/your work (& thank you for it) the information provided by you & others add up to a more complete picture leads & understanding.
    It also leads (me) to respect different opinions & points of views, the exercise of the freedoms we are priviledged to enjoy, w/responsibility & acountability.
    So inciting violence for violence sake or comming to rash decisions is not the way #5.
    Think about what you are saying, I beseach you … unless you are a disguised provocateur in which case, I’ll only thank you for your comments.

  13. I support Mazorra’s point. Would it be fair (the spy swap) to the families of the people who piloted the planes and were shut down thanks to the information provided by these spies? I don’t think so.

  14. Nice comeback Humberto. As usual when challenged, you resort to repeating cliche’s and wornout repetitive statements. There is no about face on my part. I am all for you cutting and pasting but when you resort to anything but your statements are often contradictory to be charitable. Spare me your indignation and please explain for my benefit and others
    what could possibly cause you to call for the release of the criminals in exchange for Alan Gross.

  15. Mazorra<- You kind of speak like Yubano, very fluid and concise. I’m starting to think…. well, it does not matter.

  16. Mazorra, 3 of the 5 Cuban spies were given reduced sentences and it is my understanding that with time already served are due to be released in the next few years anyway and thereafter expelled from the US.

    Trading and repatriating foreign agents is an accepted part of international diplomacy. The US government has a duty to seek the release of one of its citizens to reunite him with his family. Even if distasteful, sometimes you have to make a concession in order to achieve this objective.

  17. LOVECUBA:” the support that outsiders have lent this fascist regime for the last half century. Without this mindless herd of supporters, most of whom never have seen Cuba, repeating every ridiculous line published in Granma, the regime could not have survived”

    This was true when no one except the ussr were allowed to come to Cuba and the only source of information was GRAMMA.Today there is much more true information about the castristregime and there are few and few governements that support this regime (except for those of the same political family :Khadafi , Chavez ,……
    We have to continue spreading information outside Cuba because the support and the help of other nations will be needed the day the cubans decide they are free

  18. Humberto, Great article about groupthink. The power of groupthink is our inevitable downfall, wherever we are. In the case of Cuba, groupthink led to putting Castro in power, in justifying his decision to never hold elections, and in all the support that outsiders have lent this fascist regime for the last half century. Without this mindless herd of supporters, most of whom never have seen Cuba, repeating every ridiculous line published in Granma, the regime could not have survived.

  19. Mazorra! “Your observation was not unique or original and your continued attempts at trying to take credit for it are tiresome, childish and now in light of your most recent statement, questionable.”

    Mazorra! Quite an about face in your part about my person! Since this is a free forum I am exercising my prerogative to cut and past and comment as I wish. Not here to please you or anyone else and my history of comments and articles on this blog for over 2 years speak for themselves.

  20. Mazorra, your points about Mr. Gross are well taken. But I will try to prevent a flame war here and say that Humberto’s views come from human compassion. If Mr. Gross was my uncle or father, I’d want him traded also. Or if we could be sure that those 3 would commit no more crimes, and that the Cuban government would take no more hostages, then I’d say Mr. Gross’s life is worth more than some legal principles. Unfortunately, as Iran and Cuba and the criminal gangs in Mexico show, appeasement only makes things worse. Not only do they become more powerful, but we become corrupt by dealing with them. It would be nice to believe that being nice to criminals will make them nice to us, but history shows the opposite. I admire the compassion of Humberto however. It is hard to know how to deal with criminals when they have so much power over us.


    MIAMI HERALD: Cuba’s Internet repression equals groupthink-By José Azel
    Cuba remains one of the world’s most repressive environments for the Internet and information technologies. The Cuban government has created a dual system with a national intranet and the global Internet. Most Cubans have access only to the national intranet which consists of an in-country e-mail system, a Cuban encyclopedia and websites that are supportive of the government.

    Cuba’s only two Internet service providers are state owned and surveillance is extensive. Less than 2 percent of the population (mostly government officials) has access to the Internet. Whatever connectivity is available costs about $12 per hour in a country where the average monthly salary is less than $20.

    Additionally, Cuban regulations state that e-mail messages must not jeopardize national security; forbid the spreading of information that is against the “integrity” of the people; provide that all material intended for publication on the Internet must first be approved by the National Registry of Serial Publications; and prohibit service providers from granting access to individuals not approved by the government.

    The extent of Cuba’s political cyber police efforts was vividly captured in a recently leaked video of a 2010 behind-closed-doors lecture to an audience mostly in military uniforms. The lecturer, a counter-intelligence cybernetic specialist, defines the Internet as a field of battle that the government must use to its advantage. He boasts of a new group created within the Interior Ministry to work against bloggers. He warns of the dangers of “classic combat networks” such as Facebook and Twitter and notes how protests in Iran and Ukraine were “created” when social networks were used to incite people to protest.

    What must the Cuban leadership be thinking of the events in Tunisia, Egypt and elsewhere?

    The Cuban government has been remarkably successful in sealing the consciousness of the Cuban people from the outside world with a doctrine of intellectual isolationism and an all encompassing revolutionary dogma of intellectual autarky. Fidel Castro made it explicitly clear in a 1961 speech in which he famously warned intellectuals: “Within the Revolution everything, against the Revolution, nothing.”

    But this intellectual autarky has also produced a classic case of what social psychologist Irving Janis called “groupthink,” a type of thought characteristic of cohesive in-groups whose members try to minimize conflict and reach consensus without critically testing, analyzing, and evaluating ideas. In a groupthink environment decision-makers ignore alternatives and tend to follow irrational programs of action.

    A case in point is General Raúl Castro’s new economic program formulated, in his words, “to save Cuba from the economic abyss” and outlined in a 32-page economic platform for the upcoming Communist Party Congress.

    A centerpiece of Castro’s program is the firing of up to 1.3 million government workers — about 20 percent of the workforce — and allowing them to become self-employed “outside the government sector.” In the Cuban version of Orwellian doublespeak, that stands for the unspeakable private sector.

    This assumes that everyone is temperamentally suited to become an entrepreneur and to do so without access to cash, credit, raw materials, equipment, or technology. Groupthink is also evident in how those selected for dismissal will be chosen. A commission of experts will decide the optimal number of personnel required for each state entity and workers’ commissions will decide the positions to be cut.

    But perhaps most illustrative of the Cuban government’s groupthink (and as Dave Barry might say, I am not making this up) is the specificity with which the Cuban “reformers” have decided to allow those being fired to solicit permits to become self employed in 178 activities such as:

    Trade No. 23, the purchases and sale of used books; 29, attendants of public bathrooms (presumably for tips); 34, pruning of palm trees; 49, wrapping buttons with fabric; 61, shoe shining; 62, cleaning of spark plugs; 110, box spring repairs (not to be confused with number 116); 116, mattress repairs; 124, umbrella repairs; 125, refilling of disposable cigarette lighters; 150, tarot cards fortune telling; 156, dandy (technical definition unknown, male escort?); 158, natural fruits peeling (separate from 142, selling fruits in kiosks).

    In his economic dreamland of surrealist juxtapositions, Castro and his team believe that allowing this bizarre list of self-employment activities is the way to save the communist system. This surrealistic disconnect — the product of incestuous intellectual inbreeding — flows from Cuba’s doctrine of intellectual isolationism where Cubans are unable to receive information freely and exchange ideas openly.

    In Cuba, long-held Marxists-Leninist assumptions will not be swapped for another set of beliefs without a democratic leadership that, inspired and sustained by freedoms of speech, press, assembly, petition, and religion, can defeat the tyranny of groupthink.

    José Azel is a senior scholar at the University of Miami Institute for Cuban and Cuban-American Studies and the author of Mañana in Cuba.


  22. cold in chicago, good points you made. the biggest joke is that capitalism, often described as benefiting only the predator, might allow the honest Cuban worker to make a living for once. My friend’s morals were too high to ever work for the state. He was honest and the idea of stealing from work, the only way Cuban workers can make a living, disgusted him. This is one person who works so hard struggling to survive that he would succeed wherever you put him in America, but he could never attempt an escape as he was the only breadwinner in the family.

    This is the paradox. Socialism (or Marxism or whatever you want to call it) has created a completely corrupt and predatory society, where hard work, honesty, and compassion get you nowhere, and where absolutely everything is for sale. It mirrors the worst of capitalist societies. And when the inevitable switch to capitalism happens like in China or Russia, the ones who benefit are the corrupt who rose to the top under socialism. It was painful seeing our friend work so hard and then go hungry giving his last peso to someone even poorer than himself. Let’s hope these small cracks in socialism let some Cubans enjoy the fruits of their labor.

    You are so right in your analysis of the risks of the new economical policy (if we can call that a policy) of the castrist regime.But it takes a “start” somewhere and let’s hope the creative cuban people will learn fast the rules of the capitalist economy.As in any normal society there will be those who will succeed faster (I have seen in my trips to Cuba that it is allready the case with the “underground” economy)
    I love Cuba and the very creative cuban people and hope that freedom is coming soon.

  24. Love, speaking of having your stomach turned (as you did in Yoani’s previous post) that’s exactly what I just experienced when I read the blog’s cut and paste artist say that he would trade convicted criminals for Alan Gross. How rational is it to take a position that you acknowledge is indefensible. That statement is not only inexplicable but it makes one wonder why “Mr editor” has been pumping this issue so hard. What is your motivation and justification for taking this offensive position? What will caving in to the thugs in Cuba resolve? Our court system, the US courts system, in the country that you live in Mr. cut and paste gave these men fair trials and an appeals system to appeal their sentences, they had their day(s) in court. They were not tried in a kangaroo courts of the dictatorship under trumped up charges like Mr. Gross will be and countless other Cubans have been in the last 50 years. As a Cuban I will always stand squarely against giving in to bully tactics by the castros and their thugs, and as an American I will never support a decision that abrogates our court system for political reasons. Mr. Gross will be released but not by compromising our court system but by the weight of continued pressure applied upon the dictatorship. The same kind of sustained public relations pressure that has been effective recently on other issues. By-the-way Mr. editor you can stop taking credit for having stated the obvious that Gross was taken as a bargaining chip for the 5 criminals. Most long term, semi-intelligent observers of the Cuban situation with two cents worth of common sense saw that as well. Your observation was not unique or original and your continued attempts at trying to take credit for it are tiresome, childish and now in light of your most recent statement, questionable.

  25. Teaching an old dog new tricks won’t be easy. Especially when the dog has been repeatedly frustrated over years of training. The dynasty and its lack of competence in the ways of managing an economy, keeps grinding the population to exhaustion with constant changes and false starts. Trying this and that, mostly failing at all tasks and plans it imposes. But then, what would you expect from a failed lawyer, and his very small brother who barely completed secondary education?

    Cuban friends, who managed to leave the island in recent years have had a difficult time adapting and learning the ways of capitalism this side of the Straits. Listening to advise and experience of others is not their forte. Fortunatly, many have finally changed and internalized the new system, to the point (and glee of some) where they have surpassed long time residents on this side, both in income, tastes and sophistication. Others, less successful, have contempted themselves working hard at various manial jobs, but still making a decent life for themselves and their families.

    I can imagine the frustration and unhappines in the island’s native populaton, that failure will bring when many of the businesses fail and they loose their (shirts) investments. Although we wish everyone the best of luck and success, failure in business will be a constant companion which will frustrate many and make them long for their low paid government job. Failure in business is a reality and a normal outcome in capitalist countries which is accepted by all. It is what weeds out those products and services which are not wanted by the buying public. Failure is also what allows for the dynamism and constant advancement in the economy. It is what brings to market all those goodies we all yearn for, which are brought to the island in overloaded planes.

    Although this may be too much to expect, lets hope the dynasty informs and educates the public as to the risks and benefits of a free market. Lets hope they don’t repeat their old habits of being disingeneous and dishonest with the population in order to cause frustration and bring back their failed marxist policies of the past.

  26. Interesting to see what will happen. A few years ago I had a friend who was thrown in jail by police who also tried to rob him. His crime: selling a few trinkets on the street to feed his starving family. That made him a counterrevolutionary and capitalist parasite. Now the Cuban government is telling him to be a good revolutionary and socialist and sell a few trinkets on the street. Hmmm…

    I do think the changes are for good this time and hope my friend becomes rich selling trinkets. But as he keeps telling me, he can never forgive the Cuban government for what they’ve done to his family.

  27. Yoani, you don’t know what hope you bring to our Country and the Cuban people. I left Cuba in the 60s and I am now 50. You are admired very much not only by your generation but also mine and my mother’s. The freedom of our people is close and may the Lord guide you and keep you safe. I hope to meet you in person some day in the very near future. Please let me know if I can help you in any way. God Bless you.

  28. ***
    Free Cubans lived well in the past. Get rid of the evil Castro Brothers and the communists and the people will return to prosperity. They will learn new skills. Free Cuba!
    Cubanos libres vivieron bien en el pasado. Corran los malos hermanos Castros y las communistas y la gente van a retornar a la prosperidad. Van apprender destresas nuevas. Cuba Libre!
    John Bibb

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