“Adjusting to the adjustment”: labor pre-carity, private sector, and coping in Havana, 2010-2015
Dachely Valdes Moreno (University of Havana)
Hope Bastian Martinez (Colegio San Geronimo de la Habana)
Paper short abstract:
Despite Cuba’s Revolutionary past, labor pre-cariety in the neoliberal present forces households to leave the state sector & engage with the previously stigmatized private sector in search of living wages. Generational perspectives of justice condition household coping strategies and work decisions.
Paper long abstract:
Since its 1959 Revolution Cuba has been known for its long history of political resistance and radical social policy. The collapse of the Soviet Union left the island untethered and reeling from the effects of the US embargo. During the economic and social crisis that ensued, the Cuban state enacted neoliberal reforms with some positive economic effects, but by 2008 the recovery had ended. In April 2011 the Cuban Communist Party approved a new package of measures, known as “the Adjustment,” which signaled a radical change in paradigm. Since the 1990s the contradiction between the state’s political discourse and its limited ability to deliver has alienated large parts of the population. In the early 2010s the state began to align its promises to the population with its pragmatic ability to deliver. New policies aimed to reduce state expenditures. In October 2010 the labor federation announced that half a million state workers would be laid off in six months. Low salaries in the state sector, where the majority of Cubans work, have pushed families to develop survival strategies that combine the labor of multiple members of a household across multiple economic spaces. I explore how individuals and households feel about moving into the previously stigmatized private sector as political discourses shift. What are the advantages and disadvantages of working for the state or self-employment and how does generation influence the meaning people give to their insertion in the labor market?