Where Should Cubans Go Now?May 22, 2013 | Print |
Yenisel Rodríguez Pérez
HAVANA TIMES — As Mother’s Day nears each year, floral arrangement companies in Miami hire thousands of unemployed or low-income persons for a term of about two weeks.
These assembly lines are places where people work hard and earn very little. The reason for this is that they are hired by intermediaries, employment agencies with which these companies have agreements. This reduces their salaries by about a third.
I saw elderly women and ill people make immense efforts just to complete their work shift, for eight dollars an hour. I worked next to them at an assembly line that would stop only every three or four hours of uninterrupted labor, at temperatures as low as 6 degrees Celsius.
Not exactly the American Dream.
In the extreme temperatures of these warehouses, under the excessive demand for productivity, many of us Cubans recalled our days of servile work back in Cuba. Here, we toiled under the authoritarian imperative of personal profit, there under the authoritarian imperative of the common good.
– Did we come to Miami for this?
The filthy corners of the workplace, the rudimentary work instruments, the disorganization and confrontations between employees and supervisors: these are work conditions not too dissimilar from those that many of us Cubans working in Miami had tolerated at factories back in Cuba.
Differences in the work conditions that prevail in Cuba and Miami do exist, unquestionably. Denying this would be an affront on the age-old common sense of immigrants from around the world.
But these differences are too flimsy to sustain the social and economic hopes of people who spent a good part of their lives dreaming of the advantages that a new life in North America would bring them.
Hopes that dissolve in the boundless demands of competitive Capital and the vulnerability of non-unionized work which is the lot of latinos working in the United States.
So, where do we go now?
A new, or perhaps old concern emerges among the young in Miami’s Cuban community, a sense of uncertainty that intensifies in the awareness that, for most, Cuba is beyond the horizon of possible destinations now.