Work Camp Sites in Cuba

By: Ana Milanes

Only 90 miles away from the United States, on the island of Cuba exists a program designed to use young students away from home and work with no pay for the government. Under false pretenses of becoming “well-rounded”, the camps military staff has even denied some medical attention.

On May 31, 2010 a student was suspected to have H1N1, a Cuban news station reports. Instead of being inspected, the student was ignored. Camp military staff assumed the student was trying to be sent home. A total of 40 students became infected. Again, these students weren’t sent home, simply isolated. It wasn’t until five days later when staff decided to follow the doctor’s orders and send the students home.

Since 1966, Cuban teenagers have attended a work camp intended to teach important skills. Living conditions were different from home to say the least, and those who recall the experience claim they were “difficult”.

Jose Luis Amiero, a middle-aged man who writes about his time in the “escuela al campo” recalls being drafted in seventh grade. The bathrooms had no roofs or toilets, and when Amiero asked a general why this was he simply answered, “for hygienic reasons”.

Fidel Castro says he implemented the program to make his students aware of all fields of employment. At the campsite, the teens plant crops, pick tobacco, cut sugarcane and other agriculture jobs. The stay is usually 45 days at a time and parental visits are allowed every 15 days. Transportation to the campsites is not funded, and parents must pay 10 pesos to ride a bus out to the country. Amiero recalls the living conditions were terrible, “the bunk beds were small and crammed”. All in all, the purpose the camp is supposed to have is being jeopardized by unhygienic and unsteady conditions.

Published in: on February 3, 2011 at 7:21 am  Leave a Comment  

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