May Day Celebrations in Cuba
Field Report: The average worker’s monthly salary in Cuba is around $25 a month so what are they celebrating?
EDUARDO FABRE: May 1 is a historic day. A group of North American workers protested against their bosses and many workers were massacred. And ever since then this date has been known as Workers’ Day.
Capitalists don’t like workers getting together and demonstrating. [Such] meetings are against their interests–but not ours. In other countries Workers’ Day isn’t like this. In other countries you’ve got strikes and repression, but here it’s a party!
MILEIDYS TORRES: Here in Cuba we’re not divided into classes but into sectors, because we are all workers. In other countries, workers march on May 1 to demand rights. Here in Cuba we don’t march to demand rights, but rather to reaffirm the rights we already have.
JOSE MANUEL GUERRA: Workers rights have been guaranteed in Cuba since the Revolution in 1959.
Workers have the right to work.
SPEAKER: You can retire at 65, because by then you’ve contributed long enough to social security. Your life’s efforts are sure to contribute resources for your retirement.
Odalys Martínez, Health Worker
ODALYS MARTINEZ: Additionally to social security we have maternity leave guaranteed before and after pregnancy, and we don’t have to worry about losing our job once we come back to work, we’ll have our spot waiting for us.
JOSE MANUEL GUERRA: I come to May 1st every year, but especially this year now that a new President of Cuba has been elected, and you can see that the Cuban people support the island’s sovereignty and independence. We may have changed, but our ideas haven’t changed.
TEXT: Cuba’s new President, Miguel Díaz-Canel, has said improving the island’s ailing economy is one of his top priorities. Although many basic goods are highly subsidized, the average state salary in Cuba is just $31 a month.
ALIET ARZOLA LIMA: It’s no secret that Cuban households find it hard to make ends meet. Salaries in Cuba aren’t as high as they should be, but you’ve got to keep in mind the blockade for over fifty years by the U.S., a world power.
More than being just about the Revolution, the government and what May Day means for every Cuban. It’s become a tradition for people to come to Revolutionary Square on Workers’ Day. People see it as a place to meet up, let off steam, and share with one another.