From 14ymedio - found in May 2014 as the first independent digital media outlet in Cuba
"Trabajador serio y decente busca empleo"
"Serious and decent work-seeking job"
Discriminated for decades, Cuban Jehovah's Witnesses have just inaugurated an employment exchange that bets on "the honesty and decency" of its people. The database "is an opportunity to announce the abilities of the brothers in different professions and trades," says Tamara Sánchez, one of its managers.
As a "private initiative" although linked to the religious community, the young woman describes the new project to connect the private sector with "serious and decent" workers. Close relationships within the congregation are a plus for information to be transmitted quickly.
"When I look for work with the state and realize that I am a Jehovah's Witness, they see me as a weirdo," says Mario Francisco, a nursing graduate. "I suffered a lot at school. They kept me away because I was not a pioneer and I did not wear a scarf, "he recalls.
The young man works in the private sector as caretaker for the elderly. He believes that the new job market could be "a way to erase prejudices." He says he only accepts work in families who share his beliefs because he feels "more respected."
"When I look for work with the state and realize that I am a Jehovah's Witness, they see me as a strange creature," says Mario Francisco, a nursing graduate
"Please, if you are not a witness, do not call to register ... although we do not doubt that he is an honorable person, we will not be able to accept his registration", clarify the managers of the job market. The project is only focused on those who "it is very difficult to get work because of the critical times."
The Cuban government's relationship with the Jehovah's Witnesses has been tense since Fidel Castro's inauguration. Many were interned in the Military Units of Production Support (UMAP) that operated on the island between 1965 and 1968, while others were pushed into hiding and exile.
The official detention is maintained until today, but for some years the authorities have issued permits for the congregation to open meeting rooms. "We are allowed to meet but there is no public recognition that we exist, that we are here and we are not criminals nor bad people," notes the nurse.
The stigma is felt strongly in the teaching and work life. "There is not a single Jehovah's Witness who is a hotel manager, a foreign exchange store administrator or a state official," says Mario Francisco. In his view, this group continues to be seen as "unreliable" for certain positions of responsibility.
The latest report on Religious Freedom in the World (2014), released by the US State Department, reveals that Cuban authorities continued to control the activities of religious groups on the island. Among those most affected were Jehovah's Witnesses .
Despite the fact that the Constitution, which has been in effect since 1976, promulgates that "the State recognizes, respects and guarantees religious freedom," the Office of Religious Affairs of the Communist Party has tightly guarded permits for the construction of new houses of worship
Despite the fact that the Constitution, which has been in effect since 1976, promulgates that "the State recognizes, respects and guarantees religious freedom," the Office of Religious Affairs of the Communist Party has tightly guarded permits for the construction of new houses of worship.
Excessive controls have strengthened the informal networks that serve Witnesses to spread their beliefs door-to-door, helping each other out in case of need or warning of danger. Now they have extended those networks to the job search.
Through a telephone call, a text message or an email sent to the organizers of the new job exchange, the interested parties submit their professional skills and contact details. The project has two databases, one public and one private.
Public information may be read in Revolico-style classified sites and others circulated in the weekly package. Accepted occupations exceed twenty and include everything from plumbing to kitchen, cleaning, medicine and goldsmithing.
"Many times someone asks us for a serious, honest and responsible worker for a job and we have no way of locating the ideal brother for that job," their promoters explain. The list will favor those who until now have been harmed by prejudices.
"Witnesses who are contacted for a possible job will be duly questioned about their beliefs and their faithfulness in the service of Jehovah," they clarify. A proof that Mario Francisco seems necessary. "When they ask me about my religious beliefs, it is usually not to give me the job ... but in this case I will respond without fear the question."
Translation via Google