Jeovany J. Vega, Translator: Unstated
To Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada.
President of the National Assembly of People's Power
You recently echoed a report by the CIA – sacrilege! – to assert that
Cubans perceive a per capita annual income equivalent to $ 9,900.00 USD,
which would place us just behind Brazil, the world's sixth largest
economy. This joke from "the Agency," which frankly is not known for its
sense of humor, is based on the supposed "freebies" guaranteed by our
humanitarian government. I do really know how to say this, but you
seemed to forget or ignore that throughout the working life of a Cuban
worker state takes 30% of their "salary" every month, just to ensure
their retirement and other Social Security guarantees.
You may think that all Cubans have the doors open to them that you have
— in your duties as President of the Parliament — to say absurdities
like this publicly, but fortunately or otherwise we do not.
Life would be so simple for the millions of us who can not afford to
provide adequate food for our children; who are forced to hire private
tutors to ensure their education, after one of Fidel Castro's
experiments destroyed, during the past decade, the functional
infrastructure of the education system; that when we we take an old man
to the doctor we have to pay to transport him — as the transportation
system is a mess — more than we receive from our government for a
month's work; that we have no human way to build decent housing through
lawful means; that when we walk into a State store that offers goods in
hard currency, the State, which speaks of these "freebies," retaliates
with price-gouging that can not be compared with the rest of the planet.
Mr. President, if we are to talk about subsidies, let's make the
accounts clear: if I the State subsizes me every month through the
ration book — which now offers enough to eat for only 10 days in the
month — this means that it is subsidizing one-third of my basic needs.
Now, if I work for the State for a month, it pays me a "salary" that is
smoke and mirrors; with great luck it will be enough to live on for one
week. This means that I give the State a subsidy of three-quarters of my
labor that I generate by my own hand.
I would like to shake hands, some day, with the generous Sheik of the
United Arab Emirates, or the Saudi oil magnate, who give us millions
each year to "freely" swell the State's coffers; I hope I can, because
without their contributions the state treasury with which the state
"subsidizes" my life, would be filled only by the sweat of my people,
It is clear, therefore, that in this case nothing is free; but if on top
of that the State claims the right to demand the highest share of our
personal freedoms, then definitely, the books don't balance.
But, according to you, it is all a matter of domestic mismanagement, and
this would be why our wages are not enough to feed us, are not enough to
guarantee our children a liter of milk, are only enough to allow us to
eat with too great a frequency only rice with an egg, and todepend on
the charity of friends and family to send shoes and clothes, without
which they would walk half-barefoot and/or half naked.
It is because all that "annual per capita income" the Agency refers to
is squandered, that our professionals, including physicians of all
specialties, are obliged to exercise some other trade or to raise pigs,
to leave the clinic or hospital to be able to support our family, and it
is all because we are irresponsible, as $ 825.00 USD per capita per
month should be enough to live comfortably.
Then, my dear sir, we Cubans make our own bad lives because we want to,
and I, to cite just one example,was disqualified from the practice of
medicine for being stupid, because my "salary" was enough to raise my
children, because in my case, with a family of five, my share should be
nearly $50,000 U.S. a year, according to your words and those of the CIA.
So I recognize that I was disqualified for stupidity, but I do have to
note the detail that I never would have directed myself in such an
"irreverent" way to Minister Balaguer at the end of 2005 to
disrespectfully ask him to reflect on an "increase" of less than $ 2 to
our monthly salary.
How stupid was I! With more than $4,000 U.S. in my pocket every month
and I didn't even realize it! Look at all the trouble my sad gonads put
me through for such a banality. Looking at it this way I could not fail
to apologize to Dr. Balaguer. Not surprisingly, he was offended and more
aware than I, so he never answered me, and do you did not answer us
either when we directed our case to you in March 2007.
In summary, Mr. Alarcón, it all boils down to a problem of bad
arithmetic, that is, that if the 10 million Cubans who are not among the
privileged can't find a way to turn the measly $ 20.00 USD average the
government pays us into the $ 825.00 USD per month that you "confirm,"
citing the still execrable CIA, we don't do it only because we are more
gross and inept than the Brazilians. This mass of millions of idiots
unable to undertake an operation so simple that even lunatics of the CIA
can manage it, pass through hell because we prefer to keep for
ourselves, every month, the $ 800.00 USD difference.
Mr. President of Parliament, do me one last favor: when you have nothing
intelligent to say, at least it would be more useful to remain silent;
if not for self-love — because you decided not to respect yourself — at
least do it for Cubans like me who suffer a real embarrassment having
someone like you heading up our Parliament.
Thanks to you, the world listening must think all Cubans are some kind
of jerks, mentally capable of coming up with this nonsense. In any
event, think twice before again citing the words of the CIA, lest the
Party Central Committee ends up not liking the joke — because, no doubt,
it has the power to that — and ends up deploying this evident vein of
Creole fucker on some comedy program on TV.
Leaders like you are an embarrassment to the Cuban people. Personally,
for years I have consider you a political corpse, because if you ever
did anything that was a credit to my people, you definitely lost that
day the world witnessed how the President of our legislature, stumbling
all over the most ridiculous gibberish, did not know answer three
questions from a lowly college student.*
Jeovany Jimenez Vega
Dismissed Cuban doctor
*Translator's note: Jeovany is referring to a Q&A session Alarcon held
at the Computer Sciences University, where Eliecer Avila, a student at
the university, asked a number of "uncomfortable" questions, such as why
a toothbrush costs more than a week's wages in Cuba, and why Cubans are
not allowed to travel freely. Translating Cuba is working on a
translation of the video made of this event (which soon went viral), and
will post it here when it's done.
February 23 2012