Monday, October 29, 2012

Idle Human Capital

Idle Human Capital / Fernando Damaso
Fernando Damaso, Translator: Eduardo Alemán

In Cuba there are a ton of professionals and technicians who have
graduated from universities and who are not directly linked to
profitable enterprises, but to political, administrative and
bureaucratic tasks. In addition, due to recent drastic cuts in state
employment, there are thousands of them who are not working in their
professions. Since professional private practice is prohibited, in order
to survive, they have taken jobs as artisans, taxi drivers, cooks,
peddlers, vegetable vendors, lighting repairmen, etcetera. The
government's low salaries and poor working conditions are a
disincentive. That is how many well-educated and experienced citizens
have been lost, falling through the cracks, as though they were expendable.

We can, without any doubt, assert that there is a large amount of human
capital that is being underutilized and that has no chance of
professional or self-realization in this country. Add to this the new
graduates who every year try to enter the labor force but cannot find a
job commensurate with their education, making the situation even more
tense and difficult.

For this reason, the travel restrictions in the new immigration law that
apply to this section of the population, and that according to the
government are necessary in order to combat brain drain, are not at all
understood. It would be as if a potato farmer, having had a good
harvest, did not consume his potatoes or let others buy them, leaving
them in the open to spoil.

Our authorities have a dog-in-the-manger attitude. Only in this case we
are not talking about potatoes or dogs, but people, whose lives are now
curtailed due to the enforcement of a feudal state mentality. Instead of
providing a solution to the emigration problem, the newly approved
measures add fuel to the fire through the accumulation of idle human
capital that will escape, one way or another, in an attempt to achieve

Since those who will have less of a hard time leaving or travelling are
retired people and the less educated – citizens who are the least
attractive to host countries – Cuban authorities will be able to say
that, while they issue thousands of passports, the ones who do not issue
visas are other countries, making it seem as if the they are not the
ones obstructing emigration, but others. Another manipulative twist, one
of many to which we have become accustomed. Give it time!

Translated by Eduardo Alemán

October 26 2012

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