I felt helpless when I saw my mother crying. “I wish I were dead, I’m tired of being trampled,” she said with eyes full of tears. I realized she was the victim of depression. As I could do nothing to help her, anger replaced my calm. Writing was my only relief.
It may seem a melodramatic story, but only the one who suffers knows how much it hurts. My mother feels that she is rejected at work. She can’t take this situation any more and wants to leave her employment, but she cannot. Of the 260 Cuban pesos she earns every month, 85 pesos are deducted for household appliances delivered by the “energy revolution.” It is the only income with which you can repay your debt.
She works as a night watchman in an exhibition hall in the “Justo Vega” House of Culture, located in the town of Arroyo Naranjo. The director, Miriam Pajón Navarro, a militant member of the Communist Party of Cuba, disrespects her. For one simple reason: my mom will only do the job for which she is paid.
Pajón Navarro orders her to do other work and she refuses. Not because she wants to: when she was seven years old an accident crippled her left leg. She cannot bear weight if she is on her feet for a long time, or walks too much. And besides, she is black. For her boss, she is a useless woman, and she wants to get rid of her.
The straw that broke the camel’s back was when the union representative asked for the monthly dues, and my mother answered that at that time she had no money to pay. The director then called her into her office and said: “Maricelis, you may not be able to pay today, but tomorrow you have to bring me the money. I don’t care how, ask for loan, but we cannot let this go.” It seems that this lady wanted my mother to steal in order for her to meet her goal. Just thinking about it fills me with anger.
What to do against these attacks? Endure, suffer, be silent, or tell about it, as I now have. Because in Cuba the trade unions are controlled by the government and we have no other legal means to protect ourselves from this kind of worker abuse. The “superiors” as they like to be called, will continue to use the power that comes with their positions to further victimize their underlings. Meanwhile, my mother, I, and all citizens continue to suffer all kinds of humiliations and outrages.
Translated by: Tomás A.