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Yenisel Rodriguez Perez: I lived in Cuba my entire life until March 30, 2013. I am currently a resident in the city of Miami along with my father. Despite the 90 miles that separate Havana and Miami, I find profound reasons in both for political and community activism. My encounter with socio-cultural anthropology eight years ago prepared me for a commitment of love for cultural diversity.

Miami’s Employment Agencies

May 31, 2013 | Print Print |

Impressions of a new Cuban immigrant

yeni1Yenisel Rodríguez

HAVANA TIMES — Finding a job in Miami is getting harder every day. To make matters worse, employment agencies control a more than significant part of the city’s job market.

The unemployed and low-income people watch helpless as employment agencies, which charge a commission for finding them a job somewhere, devalue their labor power even further.

Miami’s economy is collapsing. Hundreds of businesses shut down, very little investment, and a services structure that is highly vulnerable to the international financial crisis. You can’t find a job anywhere. I’ve met people who haven’t worked in two years.

yeni2In the end, you have no choice but to fill out an application at one of these agencies, as a last resort.

This means losing a third of your salary until you can secure a full-time contract with your employer, paying 40 dollars for a “reliable” search engine or 200 dollars to be placed in direct contact with an employer.

Applying for a job directly with the employer is becoming harder every day. When you do manage to apply, you end up filling out on-line questionnaires which look more like a psychological profile than a job application.

That’s the way things are today: you stumble along, surrounded by vultures that gorge themselves on the sweat and blood of Latino workers.


What's your opinion?

  • Moses Patterson

    I simply can not bring myself to be sympathetic to Yenisel’s complaints about the job market in Miami. It is obvious that he is unskilled, or at the least, his skills are not needed in the Miami job market. If he were a software developer or graphic designer, he would likely have to turn down job offers. if he were skilled as an X-ray technician in a hospital or a health care worker at a seniors facility, he would have his pick of job opportunities. I also question his English language skills. If he were bilingual, his job prospect’s would likely improve as well. Finally, in as much as he has been in the US less than a year, his employment options are further limited by his immigration status. Then there is this: in comparison to his options in Cuba from whence he came, even under the worst of circumstances in Miami, he is infinitely better off than he was in Cuba. In Miami, he is free to go and live as he pleases, limited only by his wallet. In Cuba, even if he had the money to pay whatever price, his personal freedoms are limited. Suck it up, Yenisel, life is tough all over.

    • Hubert Gieschen

      Moses,

      you are one of my favourite contributors on this side but I am dismayed by your comments. Having grown up in Germany, we had the same problem after the GDR lock, stock and barrel was joined to the Federal Republic of Germany. To this day pensioners in the East get a lower pension than pensioners in the West. For decades our brethren in the East (for which you should read Cuba) were dazzled by the consumerism in the West. What it did not say is that when push comes to shove the lower income segments are left to their own devices. And this in Germany, more akin to social democratic welfare provision than the extreme ruthlessness of the US of A. Only Scandinavia has managed to strike the right balance between one-party paternalism (never mind that the GDR had five legal parties) and the every man for himself attitude in the Land of the Free.

      Looking forward to a constructive discussion with you in future

      • Moses Patterson

        Hubert, I have assisted several Cubans, including my wife, in going through the passport, visa, exit permit and travel procedures required to leave Cuba for Mexico, Spain and the US. To the person, each Cuban had the false belief that their prior experiences in Cuba with regards to the daily struggles to eat and live had more than prepared them for the assumed pampered lives they would live in the first world. More or less, each believed that the same effort needed to find work in Cuba would more than suffice in capitalist system. Says who? One of the lies Cubans tell themselves to justify 54 years of indefensible sacrifice is that it has imbued them with a special capacity to endure hardships. The reality is quite the opposite. My personal anecdotal experience with recently arrived Cubans, despite their level of education and training, is that they are shocked by how long it takes to find a job and hard they are expected to work once they are hired. Recent Cuban émigrés are quick to complain because they are unfortunately unprepared to compete. In this situation, my advice is ‘tough love’. Hence, my comment above.

  • Griffin

    Yunisel wrote:

    “That’s the way things are today: you stumble along, surrounded by vultures that gorge themselves on the sweat and blood of Latino workers.”

    That sounds like life in Cuba.

    In fact, the unemployment rate in Miami is improving. In early 2010, the rate peaked at over 13.2%. It’s been dropping pretty steadily since then is now under 9%. If the economy in south Florida was “collapsing” as Yunisel says, there wouldn’t be any jobs offered through these employment agencies. In fact, you have plenty of choices:

    1. You can go out and look for job.

    2. You can move to another town or state where there are more jobs (ie. Texas)
    3. You can sign up with an employment agency and whine about how terrible life is when the government doesn’t hand you a crappy job for $18 a month.

  • Griffin

    Here’s a list of recent job postings in the Miami area. It took me 3 seconds to find them, by googling the words “jobs in Miami” …

    http://www.indeed.com/l-Miami,-FL-jobs.html

  • Griffin

    If the commission taken by the Miami employment agency sounds steep, keep in mind, the Havana employment agency (ie: the government) keeps some 95% of the worker’s salary every month for the rest of their working lives.

    • DYAN AVIRAM

      Miami’s economy is collapsing. Hundreds of businesses shut down, very
      little investment, and a services structure that is highly vulnerable to
      the international financial crisis. You can’t find a job anywhere. I’ve
      met people who haven’t worked in two years.

      • Griffin

        The south Florida economy took a very hard hit 4 years ago when the financial crisis struck. Since 2011, the economy has been making a slow recovery. At no time did the Miami economy actually “collapse”. I am aware of the unemployment statistics and how the large number of people who gave up looking are not counted in the cited figures. Still, the E1 figures give an indication of the trend, which is for a slow recovery.

        “emagicmtman” complains that the job listings I posted are either low wage unskilled jobs or they require specialized education and experience. That sounds to me like a wide range of jobs on offer, which is a sign of a broad based growth in the economy. It is simply untrue that “you can’t find a job anywhere”. There are jobs on offer. Yenisel may not be able to find a job as a socio-cultural anthropologist, educated in Cuba (…there’s not much call for that sort of thing, dude!)… but if he is willing to expand his horizons he will find something.

        It’s good advice to move out of the Miami Cuban area and to branch out. Cuban immigrants looking for work in America today should go to a public library, look up the unemployment rates across the country, and move to a state with lower rates. It’s definitely NOT New York. (North Dakota, Nebraska and Vermont are the lowest).

  • emagicmtman

    If you’re going to remain in Miami, Yenisel, then it is not WHAT you know, but WHO you know, that will be the key to obtaining a decent job. Incidentally, with its unballanced service economy, Miami is one of the ground zeros of the ongoing economic depression. Griffin’s assertion that the unemployment rate for Miami has dropped from 13.2% to 9% is, like so much else he posts, so much smoke-and-mirrors! What it doesn’t take into account are all the folks who have “given up” looking for a job and are now outside of the labor force (or, more than likely, just like in Cuba, are working “on the left,” outside the official labor force). Most of the jobs listed (at least on the first few pages of Griffin’s link) are either jobs requiring specific experience and professional qualifications, or are unskilled, mimimum-wage jobs. Many such latter listings are not real jobs, but are HR departments collecting resumes so they can have scores, if not hundreds, to choose from when one of their minimum-wage-slaves quits. One of the few lucrative fields of employment in Miami, albeit dangerous, is dealing drugs. Again, if you are going to stay there, then NETWORK, NETWORK, NETWORK amongst family and friends. Otherwise, research, on line, where the economy is more viable. The latter, however, will require you to leave the comfortable cocoon of Miami’s Cuban culture. Actually, New York City and its surroundings have a more vibrant, and less parochial and provincial, Cuban culture, but the weather will take some getting use to.

  • Moses Patterson

    The topic is how a recent Cuban émigré should adjust to the US. His ‘real world’ and mine happen to be the US. The whole name-calling thing you do is not making your arguments more compelling and Hubert, I would imagine, does not need you to interpret his ‘bile’ tolerance.

    • Luis

      No, this ‘real world’ of yours has a clear connotation that Yenisel’s reality when he was in Cuba was not ‘normal’. Stop pretending everyone does not know how to read between the lines.

      I have a bag full of arguments. It’s just that I’ll never respect you after that ‘sweat of our brow’ thing. It was BEYOND offensive. Deal with it.

  • Moses Patterson

    I assume that I agree with your advice to Yenisel. Perhaps I do assume far too much at times….

  • emagicmtman

    If you’re willing to travel, Yenisel, you might try working at one of the U.S. national parks. Shortly after retiring four years ago I applied on line for a job at Yellowstone National Park and, from May through October, worked at the front desk of one of the hotels within the park. Both housing and food were subsidized and, by the end of my five-month contract I was able to save $4,000 (including a $500 bonus if you fulfill your contract and work ’til the end of the tourist season). Also, jobs were so plentiful that one of my co-workers, from Turkey, worked THREE jobs simultaneously: one on the front desk with me at the hotel, one as a waiter in a restaurant in one a nearby “gateway” community, and finally as a super-market shelf-stocker, for a total of between 80 and 90 hours a week. Being more than thrice his age, I hadn’t the stamina for his rigorous schedule. Still, he returned to Turkey with lots of $$$. Many of my American co-workers seemed to have all sorts of drug, drinking and work ethic problems, and fell by the wayside, but the ambitious foreign workers seemed to thrive.