Labour and Development in Rural Cuba

Labour, state and society in rural India
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Haitian-born Luis Agosto, like individuals of other nationalities, served as a capataz in the cane fields. On the colonia San Ramon in , a conflict between two Haitian workers resulted in the wounding of one by a gun- shot. Antonio Pie, the Haitian-born capataz, arrived at the scene of the fight before the police and spoke to both workers. Although Pie did not witness the events, he explained the details to the authorities, who accepted his narrative and did not take testimony from the individuals involved.

This nickname also appears in Haitian novels For a brief description of the process of cutting cane and the skill involved, see McGillivray In fact, available individual wage data suggests the merits of their hypothesis and the need for further research on this subject. In periods of stable prices and normal sugar production, Haitians and laborers of other nationalities appear to have received the same wages. During the harvest of , Jamaican laborer Charles Mani received 40 cents for every arrobas of cane cut from the Cuba Company.

Haitians working for the same company, however, received only 20 cents.

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As groups of men repeatedly swung their machetes for long hours, accidents were common. After detaching stalks from the ground, workers grabbed them for further chopping and trimming, sometimes grasping hidden thorns and piercing their hands.

Cuba for sale: ‘Havana is now the big cake – and everyone is trying to get a slice’

At other moments, workers missed their targets, producing painful machete slices on legs, arms, and fingers. One of the most notorious examples of sugar company abuse was the payment of workers with vales vouchers instead of cash. Although such practices had been outlawed in , sugar and other compa- nies continued circulating them throughout the Republican period.

The life of sugar workers was often marked by poverty, hunger, and harsh conditions. The Americans, we ate well. In Cuba, one of the primary ways for sugar laborers to exert control over their labor was to burn cane. This eliminated excess growth and made cutting it much easier. It also created immediate work since burned cane had to be processed quickly McGillivray There is evidence that Haitians resorted to cane burning when it was convenient to them. Dorsey , French , Mahase , Rediker , Scott Fifteen days later, the colonia went up in flames.

Sustainable Development in Cuban Peninsular Paradise

The fire quickly spread to neigh- boring farms and burned approximately 70, arrobas of cane. The rural guard was quick to arrest both Vijuel and Avilio Mila, another Haitian. In this case, a physical fight broke out between the two.


Though sugar companies hired them to attract field laborers to their plantations, recruiters generally invited scorn from other sugar companies, state officials, and even laborers themselves. To Sr. The scholarly focus on Haitians as simply workers unwittingly reproduces this logic. Outside of work hours they sought to cre- ate their own social worlds. Instead, historians must rely on company records and judicial archives. Although extensive and often detailed, these documents reflect very specific economic and political concerns. They reveal a world in which Haitian men and women relaxed and socialized after work, engaged in small-scale commerce, sold sex, gambled, and engaged in other non-sugar-producing activities on plantations as both providers and consumers.

The networks involving Haitians and individuals of other nationalities that emerged out of their extensive interactions dispel the notion that sugar companies were able to divide their workforces effectively or that Haitians were socially isolated. There is abundant evidence that Haitian workers sought relief from monot- ony and drudgery through various means.

Labour and development in rural Cuba

On the evening of March 7, , for instance, Haitian-born Ney Louis Charles was drinking anisette and play- The obvious exceptions to this are the many studies of Haitian Vodou in Cuba. It was payday. This was not a chance encounter; they knew each other very well. In fact, Charles and a Cuban-born member of the rural guard held a rivalry over her affections Laville They had been paid for their labor earlier that day and drank late into the night.

In Cuba, as elsewhere in the Americas, the presence of a large agricultural workforce created demand for a range of goods and services readily filled by other inhabitants of plantations and nearby cities McGillivray , Putnam Cirilo Rodriguez L. In , Alberto Luis and Juan Cumber, a Haitian and Jamaican respectively, held a rivalry over an Afro- Cuban woman named Maria, who lived on their colonia and worked during the yearly harvests as a prostitute. Inocente G. Haitians were not the only individuals on Cuban soil who gambled.

In Ciego de Avila in , Haitian-born rural laborer Alberto Luis bought lottery tickets from Luis Woi Tung, a Chinese-born individual who lived on the same sugar plantation. Haitian families cooperated to prepare food, wash clothes, and perform other domestic duties during leisure hours. In the colonia Fontanales number 3, Lucia Pradela, a married Haitian woman, performed domestic labor in her house.

In , the aforementioned Rosa Pol During the dead season of on the colonia La Isabel, a group of Haitian men cooperated to cook, clean, and gather food. Even such close-knit cooperation among Haitians did not prevent them from forming relationships with people of other nationalities.

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At times, sugar companies tolerated gambling and prostitution on plantations in order to retain workers, even as state officials cracked down on them, ques- tioning the extent to which Cuban state institutions acted on behalf of sugar companies. As a result, conflicts broke out between workers and representatives of companies and the state over the terms of labor and leisure. Undercover police officers arrested men and women from different nationalities for illegal gambling or engaging in prostitution. Although most Haitian immigrants cut cane, they also worked as labor recruiters and ox-drivers.

They even labored in the industrial sectors in sugar centrales. Although Haitians rarely participated in labor unions, they developed individual and collective strategies to resist company control over their labor and leisure.

While some of these strategies involved taking actions during work hours, many others occurred during breaks in the workday. Haitians and individuals of other nationalities created social and economic worlds outside the direct gaze of company and state. Despite periodic attempts by state and company offi- This included drinking, relax- ing, playing music, dancing, engaging in prostitution, gambling, petty com- merce, and other activities with workers of other nationalities.

The picture that emerges as we get closer to the experiences of Haitian migrants them- selves is one of multinational exchanges and links, not one of workers rigidly divided according to ethnicity. It suggests that discussions of Haitian integra- tion into Cuban society should begin in the communities they formed with Cubans and other immigrants, not the top-down policies of the Cuban state. Havana: Editorial de Ciencias Sociales. Berenguer Cala, Jorge, Santiago de Cuba: Ediciones Santiago.

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Bourgois, Philippe I. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. Bulmer-Thomas, Victor, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Madrid: Alianza Editorial.

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Rural Labour, First Edition

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How far has Cuban agriculture advanced since ? How have conditions changed for the rural workers and their dependants? What are the prospects for the. Labour and Development in Rural Cuba. Authors: Ghai, Dharam P., Kay, Cristobal, Peek, Peter. Free Preview. Buy this book. eBook 36,99 €. price for Spain.

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