REPORT #181 Feb 2000
SLAVERY TODAY IN BELIZE, OR INDENTURED LABOR? IS THERE A DIFFERENCE AND SHOULD BELIZEANS SUPPORT SLAVERY of CUBANS?


Produced by the Belize Development Trust

Twenty years ago, Fidel Castro sold 80,000 young Cubans into indentured labor in the Eastern Bloc countries. They were made promises that were never kept and lied to frequently. There are books by survivors of these programs who defected. It is a story of a totalitarian regime in Cuba, in which the citizens are property of the state apparatus. In Cuba, the state owns the people, except Castro and clique. In Belize, despite a poor political structure, we could still say that citizens own the state. A big difference!

Young Cubans were sold abroad for different reasons. Some volunteered because of wanting to see the world and get off an island, in which they were prisoners and even their thoughts were controlled as much as their food supply. Others went on four year contracts, with the promises that their money would be saved for them. They would be given technical industrial training and so on. Twenty years later, we know from the literature published by survivors of these programs that it was all a big lie! The sale of Cubans abroad was an attempt to stifle any rebellion among the disatified youth. Also to earn money for Castro's regime. In many of these countries and programs, Cubans were told they would get industrial technical training to improve their skills, but ended up only being used for menial labor in jobs that locals in places like Poland and Czechoslovakia would not do. They were told that they would receive adequate housing, but were packed seven people to one bedroom apartments. They were told that 60% of their wages would be banked in their account in Cuba, so when they returned home, they would have a nest egg. Upon return, they found the bank accounts empty. They didn't know that Castro's government received 250 Crowns for each Cuban labourer sent. Not only that, whatever remaining money they should have received was not there. There were forced payroll deductions to provide for causes in Angola and Chile and elsewhere. Both boys and girls were forced into prostitution and to become thieves, to steal food to eat to keep from starving and pay the rents.

They could not protest. To be sent home early was to be blacklisted, it meant no job in Cuba, because all work is state controlled. No food and ration coupons, because people are controlled by food supplies and ration coupons. Also your family and relatives will be punished also, for any intransigence. They also could lose their housing, their food supply and their job.

Of the 80,000 Cubans shipped abroad twenty years ago, most lived like animals. Surviving was the only thing. Many opted for the easier route of moving in with local native people as lovers, concubines, or gigolos to survive.

Which brings us around to our Cuban Doctor importation program of our Prime Minister Said Musa. Belize needs these doctors! We also need them in remote rural villages. These Cuban doctors are still SLAVES of the Cuban regime, even though they are working in Belize. As they are now SLAVES of our government in turn? Should we consider some things? From the Belizean heritage of slavery, should we be apathetic to the circumstances of these Cuban doctors? Are there some fundamental things we can do, to uphold their human dignity? They have to live and work were assigned, but should we as Belizeans ensure that they are not treated like animals? Can we and do we supply them with decent living conditions? Do we see that they get as much money to spend for food, as much as any village Belizean nurse? Do our civil servants and politicians in Belmopan use the many MEDICAL GRANT programs to get them the equipment and tools they need to do the job for which they have been trained? Can they opt for political asylum and become Belizean citizens? Will we allow them to bring relatives and family to Belize, out of the clutches of Castro? Can they apply for a piece of land to farm and build their own house on, like any Central American immigrant?

Since the media in the port town are the only controls on our Belizean government, it would be interesting to see what a media reporter's survey of the economic living conditions of the Cuban doctors is like, in the most primitive, remote villages that they must serve. Are we guilty of SLAVERY and inhuman animal like conditions? I'm curious, are you? I think they should be treated with dignity and adequate incomes as a Belizean responsibility. Do you? Does any money they get, have to go back to Cuba? Do Belizeans tolerate this new slavery in our own country by any name? Can we mitigate the conditions under which these Cuban slaves live and work?

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