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INTERNATIONAL AGRICULTURAL TRADE
AND DEVELOPMENT CENTER
SURVEY OF CUBAN AGRICULTURAL WORKERS, 1956-57
University Catholic Association Translated by
IW 01-7 June 2001
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
Food and Resource Economics Department Gainesville, Florida 32611
MISSION AND OBJECTIVE
INTERNATIONAL AGRICULTURAL TRADE AND DEVELOPMENT CENTER
To enhance understanding of the vital role that international agricultural trade plays in the economic development of Florida, and to provide an institutional base for interaction on agricultural trade issues and problems.
The Center's objective is to initiate and enhance teaching, research, and extension programs focused on international agricultural trade and development issues. It does so by:
1 Serving as a focal point and resource base for research on international
agricultural trade, related development, and policy issues.
2. Coordinating and facilitating formal and informal educational
opportunities for students, faculty, and Floridians in general, on
agricultural trade issues and their implications.
3. Facilitating the dissemination of agricultural trade-related research results
4. Encouraging interaction between the University community and business
and industry groups, state and federal agencies and policy makers, and other trade centers in the examination and discussion of agricultural trade
SURVEY OF CUBAN AGRICULTURAL WORKERS, 1956-57
University Catholic Association
Translated by Josd Alvarez
Professor of Food and Resource Economics
University of Florida
Everglades Research and Education Center
Belle Glade, FL 33430-8003
UNIVERSITY OFF fLU iti,,N L KIES
LIBRARY J7 57
SURVEY OF CUBAN AGRICULTURAL WORKERS, 1956-57 University Catholic Association
This paper translates an important document of Cuba's agricultural history. It is the
survey of agricultural workers conducted by the University Catholic Association during 1956-57 throughout Cuba's countryside. The main purpose of this publication is to provide useful information to those interested in studying and understanding the Cuban reality. There were 350,000 agricultural workers at the time of the study. With their families they numbered 2, 100,000 persons, accounting for 34% of the total Cuban population at that time. The survey documented the misery in which they lived. The statistics include medical-sanitary aspects, diet, physical health, social aspects, housing, education, and level of income.
Key words: ACU, agricultural workers, Cuba, rural statistics, survey
TABLE OF CONTENTS
A B STR A C T ............................................................... i
LIST O F TA BLE S .......................................................... iv
LIST O F FIGU RES ......................................................... v
PR E FA C E ................................................................ vi
SURVEY OF CUBAN AGRICULTURAL WORKERS, 1956-57 ..................... I
P resentation ......................................................... I
Introduction ......................................................... 2
O rigin and Purpose ............................................. 2
Questionnaire D esign ........................................... 3
Drawing of the Sam ple .......................................... 3
Training of the Interviewers ...................................... 4
Field W ork .................................................... 4
C ost and Tim e ................................................. 5
Reliability of the Results ......................................... 5
C onclusion ..... .............................................. 5
M edical-Sanitary Aspects ............................................... 7
H eight and W eight .............................................. 7
Study of the D iet ..................................................... 7
Global Caloric Contribution ...................................... 7
Qualitative Analysis of the Diet ................................... 8
State of Physical H ealth ................................................ 12
Lung Tuberculosis .............................................. 12
Diseases of Hydro-Telluric Contamination ........................... 12
M edical A ssistance .............................................. 13
M edicines ..................................................... 14
Social A spect ........................................................ 14
Educational A spect ................................................... 17
H ousing ............................................................ 19
M aterials ....................................................... 19
Sanitary Installation ............................................. 20
Bathroom and Shower ........................................... 20
W ater Supply .................................................. 21
L ighting ....................................................... 2 1
H ouse D ensity .................................................. 22
Level of Incom es ...................................................... 24
W orking R egim e ................................................ 24
M echanization .................................................. 24
Labor Force .................................................... 24
P aym ents ...................................................... 24
Distribution of Incom e ........................................... 25
C onclusion ........................................................... 28
LIST OF TABLES
1 Comparison between values obtained in the 1953 census and the 1956-57 survey ... 6
2 Predominant combinations of materials in the houses of Cuban agricultural w orkers ............................................................. 19
3 Type and location of sanitary facilities in the houses of Cuban agricultural workers. 20
4 Type and location of bathroom or shower in the houses of Cuban agricultural w orkers ............................................................. 20
5 Water supply distribution in the houses of Cuban agricultural workers ............ 21
6 Means of lighting in the houses of Cuban agricultural workers .................. 22
7 Number of rooms utilized to sleep in the houses of Cuban agricultural workers .... 22
LIST OF FIGURES
I Comparison between survey and 1953 Census rates regarding payment of rent, illiteracy, and m arriage status ........................................... 6
2 Number of days per month the head of the family consumes bread, milk, flour, bean, and rice ....................................................... 9
3 Number of days per month the head of the family consumes meat, egg, fish, and v ian das ... ...... ... ... ... ... .... ...... ......... ............ ........ 9
4 Rates of responses to the question on which of the four Oobs, roads, schools, or hospitals) is more necessary to better his living condition ..................... 15
5 Rates of responses to the question on which of the five institutions (church, boss, government, union, or freemasonry) could better his living condition ............ 16
6 Rates of responses about the degree of literacy of the head of the family ......... 18 7 Rates of responses about the condition of the house .......................... 23
8 Expenditures in previous month, by item and relative importance ............... 25
9 Income in cash in previous month, by item and relative importance ............. 26
10 Histogram of cumulative family income levels for agricultural workers .......... 27 11 Histogram of family income levels for agricultural workers ................... 27
This publication contains a translation of the Survey of Cuban Agricultural Workers conducted by members of the University Catholic Association (Agrupaci6n Cat6lica Universitaria, ACU)' throughout Cuba in 1956-57.2
I remember reading this 63-page booklet soon after it was published in Cuba. Its content made an indelible impression on me. I came in contact with that publication again while writing a book on Cuba's agricultural sector during my sabbatical in the first half of 2000. Gathering information for a chapter devoted to explain the situation in Cuba's countryside before the revolution of 1959, I needed economic and social statistics for that period. I read again ACU's booklet in the appendix of a book published in Cuba. Once again, the statistics were excruciating. Although I had always had that belief, it was obvious that Cuba, especially its countryside, was not the paradise that many persons try to depict.
When those people want to praise pre-1959 Cuba they count the number of televison sets, automobiles, refrigerators, and other similar variables. It is obvious that those do not apply to the countryside. ACU's study refers to that fact in the following manner: "The city of Havana is living an epoch of extraordinary prosperity, while in the countryside, and especially the agricultural workers, are living in conditions of stagnation, misery and desperation hard to believe." Dr. Jos6 Ignacio Lasaga, one of the participants in the survey, stated: "In all my travels through Europe, [Latin] America and Africa, very few times have I found peasants living more miserably than the Cuban agricultural worker." And the booklet adds: "This statement is very strong, is overwhelming, but is the truth." That reality encompassed 350,000 agricultural workers and 2,100,000 persons when their families are included. At the time of the survey they represented 34% of the total Cuban population.
The need to circulate that important document led me to translate it into English. To publish it as an International Working Paper, I had to modify some of its format (and omit a number of graphs that duplicated information in the text and/or a table), but not its content. This publication will also be available on the web site of the Research Initiative on Cuban Agriculture of the Food and Resource Economics Department at the University of Florida
'Those interested in the history of this Association should consult the work by Josd
Manuel Hemndez entitled ACU: Los Primeros 50 Afios. Miami, Florida: Agrupaci6n Cat6lica Universitaria, 1981. There is a more recent version by the same author entitled The ACU at the Threshold of the Third Millennium. Miami, Florida: Agrupaci6n Cat6lica Universitaria, 2001.
'The correct citation is Melchor W. Gast6n, Oscar A. Echevarria and Ren6 F. de la
Huerta. Por Ou6 Reforma Agraria [Why Agrarian Reform], Serie B Apolog~tica, Folleto No. 23. La Habana: Bur6 de Informaci6n y Propaganda, Agrupaci6n Cat6lica Universitaria, 1957.
(www.cubanag.ifas.ufl.edu). This document will provide useful information to people interested in studying and understanding the Cuban reality of the republic that ended in January 1, 1959. The statistics in the booklet may explain the reasons for the overwhelming support that the Cuban peasantry gave to the guerrilla movement that contributed to the overthrow of the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista.
I would like to extend my gratitude to the many current and former members of the
University Catholic Association who honor me with their friendship. Several people contributed in many ways to the completion of this effort. They include Juan Carlos Espinosa and Clarita Baloyra. Special thanks to Jos6 Manuel (Manolin) Hernndez, Professor Emeritus at Georgetown University, for his information and his intervention to obtain permission to translate and publish the original booklet. Such authorization came from Father Amando Llorente, SJ. Father Llorente has been ACU's director since the death of its founder, Father Felipe Rey de Castro, SJ in 1952. He held that position in Cuba until 1960 and continues in that role in Miami. I also thank Zoe Blanco Roca, of the Cuban Heritage Collection at the University of Miami, who found the original publication and mailed me a copy.
My obsession with those who have given their lives in the constant struggle for a better Cuba (different from the Cuba portrayed in this booklet) makes me mention the names of three young members of ACU who were murdered on December 28, 1958 (just four days before Batista's overthrow) in Pan de Guajaib6n while trying to reach the mountains of Pinar del Rio to join the guerrillas. They are: Josd Ignacio Marti Santa Cruz, Javier Calvo Formoso and Julidn Martinez Incldn.
Finally, I would like to dedicate this effort to the memory of Professor Enrique Baloyra, who carried to his final resting place his medal of agrupado, placed around his neck by his widow, my sister Clarita. "El Kike" was a living example of a true Catholic, patriot, and educator. He will be happy to know that, through this publication, his beloved ACU still has a humble saying in Cuban affairs.
SURVEY OF CUBAN AGRICULTURAL WORKERS, 1956-57 University Catholic Association
Translated by Jos6 Alvarez
The Christian doctrine demands from man the fulfillment of the social function, not only with regard to the use of material goods, but also with regard to the use of his abilities and energies. By conducting this socioeconomic research, the members of the University Catholic Association are only fulfilling our duty as Catholics, putting our energies and professional skills to the service of our Nation.
Their Holiness Popes Leon XMi and Pius Xl published the Encyclics Rerumn Novarum.
and Cuadragesimo Anno about the social theme. They explained the eternal Christian principles in relation with the conditions of modern society. Since then the Church has been reiterating to all Catholics their urgent need of knowing and disseminating that explanation of the principles, and the obligation they have to carry out efforts to put them into individual and collective practice.
To conduct this survey research in all areas of the Republic in the year 1957 is something that can not be imagined until one tries to do it. Our researchers had to overcome not only the irregular topography of our Fatherland, but also the mental anomalies that disturb our citizens.
The objective of the survey had three main goals: First, to collect for the first time in
Cuba true and detailed statistics on the living conditions of the agricultural workers that would be useful in the analysis, and finding of solutions, of their socioeconomic problems. Second, to facilitate to our members' in the cities the opportunity to feel the reality of our countryside and understand its difficulties. Last, but not least in importance, to be able to affirm with the corresponding knowledge and with proofs in hand, that the Cuban peasants are struggling between the abandonment and impotence because of the national selfishness, and that our Nation can not seek real progress while the due attention is not given to our countryside.
The city of Havana is living an epoch of extraordinary prosperity while the countryside, and especially the agricultural workers, are living in conditions of stagnation, misery and desperation hard to believe. At the end of one of the meetings that we have had in the past few months, Dr. Jos6 Ignacio Lasaga said a phrase that we will hardly forget: "In all my travels through Europe, [Latin] America and Africa, very few times have I found peasants living more
'Note of the translator: In reality, the word used was "agrupado" (from Agrupaci6n), which is the status achieved after a testing period as "congregante" (member of the congregation).
miserably than the Cuban agricultural worker." This statement is very strong, is overwhelming, but is the truth.
The family of the Cuban agricultural worker, with 6 persons as average, only has as annual income of 548.75 pesos; that is, an annual average of 91.56 pesos per person. The agricultural working population, that can be calculated to be 350,000 workers and two million one-hundred thousand persons, has only an annual income of 190 million pesos. That is, despite the fact that they account for 34% of the population, their earnings are only 10% of the national incomes.
Many causes have brought about this situation and the cure will not be easy. We all have to feel guilty for not having worried about knowing the crude reality, and for doing nothing at our hands to remedy it; but we must also clarify that much of that was unavoidable. As a Republic, Cuba is a very young Nation and therefore seditious and impulsive. It is also a small nation and as such it is subject to the economic orientations of the big powers. Our beloved Fatherland continues to suffer intensely the evils of the absentee latifundia, by which wealth is produced in the countryside but is all enjoyed in Havana.
The Cuban agricultural worker, deceived by governments and forgotten by the leaders of all national sectors, keeps himself astonishingly honest, moral, and human. He is waiting with sadness but with dignity for the most qualified and better equipped people to come to open the way and show him how to march toward development and progress. God willing that this study of the economic situation of the Cuban agricultural worker acts as a light to clarify the current lack of information that would lead to a careful analysis of the causes of that situation for a just and fast rectification.
Origin and P=ose
Although there exists an ambience of sympathy around our guajiro', even among those who have had no direct contact with the people of our countryside, one could think that in comparison with the urban population, and with the growing activity as well as the flow of expenditures and investments in the large population nuclei, especially in the Havana area, our rural population LACKS IN both social and economic UvIPORTANCE.
Nothing is farther from the truth. Cuba is, and will be for a long time, a country with an agrarian economy. Despite the remarkable rural exodus, part of whose causes are present in our research, increased by the concentration of investments and expenditures in urban areas, Cuba's rural population, which in 1907 was 56% of the total, today encompasses 44% of our people,
'Note of the translator: Guajiro is the name given in Cuba to the man of the countryside. In some parts of this study they also use the term campesino (peasant).
and 40% of its labor force. The latter considers only the agricultural sector which directly accounts for one-third of the national income. That fact, along with the great misery that at first sight is observed in our countryside, more than justifies any effort aimed at bringing to light the peasant problem.
For us Catholics, the peasant mass is of utmost importance. lt has merited the frequent attention of the Roman Pontiffs in their economic and social aspects. In his letter of August 3 1, 1947, Pius XII says: "One of the causes of the disequilibrium, and let us say more, of the disorder, into which the world economy is sunk, and at the same time all the aggregate of civilization and culture, is without a doubt, a pitiful disaffection when not contempt, for the agricultural life and its multiple and essential activities." As Catholics and Cubans, these are the main reasons that moved us to undertake this gigantic task 18 months ago. With sadness for us, the analysis of the work whose explanations and results we present below, has more than justified the reasons that impelled us to carry it out.
The questionnaire is one of the bases on which the success of a survey rests. The questions must be structured with clarity, according with the vocabulary of the universe to investigate. Thus, when asking the annual salary, the formula used was How much did YOU GET from ... ? [ZCuAnto le SACO UD. a ... ?] Also, the questions must be written in a way that do not suggest a determined answer. Sometimes, when the question may be considered shameful, the response is greatly expedited if one shows one to be the expected answer. Thus, in the question of illiteracy our researcher said: "You do not know how to read and write, do you?"
With this prior knowledge we tried to prepare a questionnaire as perfect as possible. To that effect we distributed the main topics the survey would encompass to a group of students and professionals and asked them for suggestions concerning the questions. With these reports and similar material that was possible to obtain, the development of the questionnaire began to be studied. At the same time of these preliminary studies, we established contact with the Cuban National Bank. Its collaboration was an extremely important factor in the decision reached.
With the testing questionnaire we put ourselves in a preliminary investigation in which eight pairs of interviewers conducted 100 interviews in 4 different zones during three days. During another two months, the completed questionnaires and the reports of the interviewers, as well as our conversations with them, were revised. The purpose was to structure and design the final questionnaire. The campaign plan, and the manner to put it into practice, were developed from those meetings.
DrawinLy of the Sample
The study of a determined universe, through the survey method, consists of a small
sample that is considered representative of the set to be studied. A well-distributed small sample
renders more dependable results that a greater sample which has concentrated the interviews in a determined group.
Inasmuch as our study encompassed only one social stratum, the agricultural worker, a previous stratification was not necessary. Thus we went on to distribute the 1,000 interviews, that was our sample of a universe of 400,000 families of agricultural workers, among the 126 municipalities. This provided one interview per 400 cases, a larger proportion than the one required for our work.
Training of the Interviewers
Once the sample was drawn, the next step was the instructing of a group of students of the University Catholic Association. In the execution of any research, the work of the interviewer is of utmost importance. The success of the sampling will depend on his care and responsibility. That is how the booklet that was distributed among the future interviewers started. It explained not only the presentation of each of the questions, but norms of courtesy mostly used in the countryside, measures and terms they needed to know, as well as some other special instructions.
On November 30, 1956, after 5 months of intense preparation, we were ready to start the gathering of the data throughout the island. The object of our research was the census' agricultural family. For such we understood, following the census' definition, all the persons who are or are not related by family bond, that for whatever reason lived in the same residential unit. To be considered as an agricultural working family it was necessary that its main source of income was a salary, wage or in-kind retribution for work performed for a third party who owns or represents the land and capital goods. In addition it had to live in a rural area, considered as any population nucleus with less than 150 inhabitants where as a general rule there were no medical, legal or recreational services, and that in the majority of cases was lacking electricity. All these requirements were taken from the concepts established in the 1953 census.
To the topographical difficulties we had to add the great mistrust of many of the
interviewees which made the task more delicate and tiresome in many cases. The prohibition of traveling over some areas in Pinar del Rio, Las Villas and Oriente,' along with the arrest of some
'Note of the translator: They refer to the 1953 Population, Housing and Electoral Census.
'Note of the translator: They represented the western-most, the central, and the easternmost provinces of Cuba, respectively, until the changes made in 1976.
of the interviewers, made it impossible to obtain the information in several specific places.'
Only the collection of the information lasted approximately ten months, with a total of 8,000 hours and a cost estimated at $15,000.
Cost and Time
In general, the work was performed, in its majority, by the students and professionals of the ACU. One could say, without exaggerating, that the total work took 15,000 hours. They traveled about 150,000 kin. The estimated cost was $30,000, of which the real expenses were only $1,600 since the rest is the value of the help received as well as the estimated salaries of all who took part in the survey as volunteers.
Reliability of the Results
One of the questions that always worries when analyzing the results of a sampling is the extent to which the sample is representative of the universe studied. A common practice is to include in the research some figures that are known for the whole universe in order to compare the values obtained against the benchmark figures. In our study the comparison values were registered in the 1953 census. If the results of our research are compared with them, as presented right below, we can see how the studied sample was completely representative of the total number of agricultural workers (Table 1 and Fig. 1).
It could happen that the figures in Table I arise a reaction of admiration toward the
precision of the work and the attention focuses mainly on that point. If this research were about the temperature in the different municipalities of the island, or about the mining wealth of Cuba, this would not have the least of importance. Our research, however, is not about the inanimate resources of the country but about its greatest wealth: the men who till the land. For that reason, more than the attention of the intellect, we need the one of the heart to listen the cold language of the statistics, the voice of 2,500,000 countrymen, Cubans like us who, through the statistics, are going to talk about their life and their problems.
'Note of the translator: On November 30, 1956 (the day the interviews started), a group of young people belonging to the 26 of July Movement, took over the city of Santiago de Cuba, the capital of Oriente province. They were expecting Fidel Castro's landing on that province. Although the group of interviewers were not allowed to travel in certain areas, it is almost unbelievable that they continued their work during the following ten months when the armed struggle in both the countryside and the cities was increasing. On the other hand, the official repression was reaching unexpected high levels. The interviewers deserve credit for their courage and dedication.
Table 1. Comparison between values obtained in the 1953 census and the 1956-57 survey.
Figure in the sample I Figure in the census Item investigated Percent
Use of kerosene for lighting 89.84 85.53
Population younger than 16 years 44.70 44.61
Whites 86.01 85.72
Water from wells 88.52 83.59
Wooden houses, roof of palm
leaves and floor of soil 60.35 58.41
Houses without toilet or privy
(latrine) 63.96 62.77
Inhabited without paying rent 55.48 54.73
Joined in matrimony 34.13 34.32
Women older than 12 years without children 45.31 44.30
70 Percent 6364 630
60 55.48 54.73 Survey.......I...
60 ~. 55.48.5. WiCensus
50 43.09 42.62
40 34.13 34.32
Not paying rent Illiteracy Married Singl
Fig. 1. Comparison between survey and 1953 Census rates regarding payment
of rent, illiteracy, and marriage status.
HeiWit and Weight
The average height and weight in a community reflect to a certain extent an index of the sanitary conditions. The increase in the average height and weight in communities with high living standards, for example, in university groups, with respect to the averages of previous decades, is a phenomenon that has been ascertained in almost every country: the cause has to be searched in the better sanitary-dietetic care, especially in the infancy stage. In our survey, these data were obtained through direct questions, writing down the answer of the interviewee.
The average height of the Cuban agricultural worker is 5 feet and 4 inches. Knowing from other studies that the height of the Cuban woman is 5 feet and 3 inches we can notice the small difference between the two. It needs to be stated, however, that the figure obtained by us does not represent the height of the average Cuban man but only that of the agricultural worker representative of the most backward hygiene-related conditions in our country.
According to that average height and based on the tables commonly accepted we should admit that the average weight of our agricultural worker should be 153 pounds. In our survey, however, he appears with a weight 16 pounds below the theoretical average. This datum is in agreement with the index of malnutrition which is of 91%.
Study of the Diet
Global Caloric Contribution
Departing from the average weight and height base, as well as the work he performs, our agricultural worker should receive a daily intake of 3,500 calories. The information gathered in our survey shows that the daily real caloric intake is less than 2,500 calories. This figure has been obtained through the calculation of the energy value of the food present in the average diet. Diet which, on the other hand, repeats itself with an almost constant monotony in case after case, a fact that renders more reliability to the datum.
We have to note that this deficit of 1,000 calories is probable covered, at least partially in many cases, because of the possibility that the peasant consumes as "extras" certain types of foods such as fruits and sugar, which are not part of their customary diet and that were not studied in our research. The reader should not be surprised to know that fruits do not constitute a fundamental column in our tables which intend to reflect a peasant phenomenon. The truth is that, in the countryside, much less fruit is consumed than in the capital. It is convenient to know that some fruits, such as mango, are capable of providing 100 calories each one, not counting the other nutritional elements such as vitamins, mineral salts, etc.
The following question is now appropriate: How does the peasant manage to live with an
energy deficit of 1,000 daily calories? In the first place, let us answer that the peasant manages to live, but does not achieve an adequate living. In many cases, this deficient energy contribution translates into a lower labor productivity because of the lack of physical energy. The physical shape in what we see him, on the other hand, is not very encouraging: undernourished, precociously aged, with fallen teeth, etc., with all the data that portray a bad nutritional condition. In second place, we have to clarify that the figure of 3,500 daily calories as minimal energetic requirement, corresponds to a man who is performing a hard task. In summary, it represents what an agricultural worker needs while he is an agricultural worker and not when he is unemployed. In the long months of the dead season' when the peasant is forced, with great frequency, to kill time sitting on a taburete' at the door of his bohio' the caloric requirement is obviously less. The nutritional status could improve from less wear down or consumption; only that in such circumstances it is more difficult to secure food.
Qualitative Analysis of the Diet
A normal diet, a sufficient portion, must have:
1. Enough amount of calories. (Energetic value, mainly provided by carbohydrates.) 2. Enough amount of proteins. (Provided by meats, eggs, milk and some vegetables.)
3. Enough amount of fats.
4. Enough amount of carbohydrates.( Sugars, flour, starch, legumes, fruits.)
5. Enough amount of vitamins, mineral salts, etc.
The global caloric value, analyzed in other section, is insufficient in the average diet of the agricultural worker.
For the study of the different foods that are contained in the customary diet of this type of peasant we followed the criterion of directly asking what they had eaten the day before the interview. From the results obtained from the pre-testing, the interviewer knew more or less the forthcoming answer, and asked the question in a suggesting manner to make it easier for the respondent to be frank. Furthermore, the interviewees did not show any difficulty in providing these data. Therefore, the data that appear in our graphs (Fig. 2 and Fig. 3) represent the frequency with which one type of food was present in the composition of the diet of the day preceding the interview.
Note of the translator: I translate tempo muerto for dead season, which, for those
working on the sugarcane harvest (the main employer in the countryside) could translate into seven months of unemployment or, luckily, underemployment.
'Note of the translator: Taburete is a typical chair in Cuba's countryside.
'Note of the translator: Bohio is the Indian name given to a certain type of housing in Cuba's countryside built with wood and palm leaves.
No. of days (#) 30,
25 23.28 24.08
0 Bread Milk Flour Bean Rice
Fig. 2. Number of days per month the head of the family consumes bread,
milk, flour, bean, and rice.
No. of days (#)
Meat Egg Fish Viandas
Fig. 3. Number of days per month the head of the family consumes meat, egg,
fish, and viandas.
The former did not preclude the interviewer from developing an impression of what
occurred in the remaining days of the year through a friendly conversation with the respondent. In the great majority of cases "the food of the previous day" was a carbon copy of the food of the other previous days. In addition, the constancy with which the same data repeat themselves, renders an enormous validity to the results obtained.
Only 4% of the interviewees mentioned meat as an integral food of their customary ration. Fish was reported by less thanl%. Eggs are consumed by 2.12% of the agricultural workers and only 11.22% drink milk.
How does the peasant subsist with such a deficient component of meat, milk and eggs? There exists a providential and redeeming element: the bean. A basic element of the peasant's diet, the bean is, by exception, a vegetable very rich in proteins. In other countries where corn represents the role of beans in Cuba, the deficiency illnesses are more frequent. We can assure, without fearing of making a mistake, that the Cuban peasant does not suffer from more deficiency illnesses thanks to beans.
Carbohydrates are going to reveal curious and significant facts, especially for a foreign observer. Bread, universal food par excellence, symbol of the human feeding, is only consumed by 3.36% of the population of our agricultural workers. This low consumption can be explained by the long distance to population centers and the relatively high price when one purchases the bread in the grocery store. Contrary to what occurs in other countries, the Cuban peasants have not learned to bake their own bread, nor have they gotten used to a bread other than wheat bread, such as corn bread. Wheat, as it is known, is not produced in Cuba. The Cuban peasant, of Spanish or Canary origin in almost its totality, has not shown the ability to adapt himself to certain dietetic imperatives dictated by the climate. He continues attached to the tradition of his grandparents. When faced with the alternative of looking for substitutes of certain foods or go without them, he chooses to be without them.
Contrary to all expectations, corn flour appears only with a 7% consumption. All Viandas9 show a contribution of 22% to the peasant's diet. This relatively low level of consumption contrasts with recently released data by the National Institute of Economic Reform. Says this INRE report:
Contrary to everything that has been believed until today concerning meat, wheat, rice,
corn, lard and oils, the historical truth is that viandas are the fundamental base of the
Cuban people's diet. There is no commodity that surpasses the annual national
9Note of the translator: Viandas is a Cuban term that includes malanga (taro), boniato (sweet potato), calabaza (pumpkin), flame (yam), and yuca (cassava); sometimes it also includes pl6tano (plantain) and papa (potato).
"Note of the translator: Instituto Nacional de Reforma Econ6mica.
consumption of one thousand one-hundred and thirty-seven million pounds of viandas.
Without challenging the veracity of that report, it is good to clarify that this datum refers to national consumption and our survey has specifically studied the consumption of the agricultural worker. The latter is, without a doubt, completely different than the consumption of other groups of the Cuban population.
The index of consumption of viandas (22% in total), obviously lower than the one that would be obtained in another human group of our population, can be broken down as follows:
Cassava .................... 9%
Plantain .................... 3%
Taro ....................... 4%
Sweet potato ................ 6%
Pumpkin .................... 0.6%
The main source of energetic elements is, without a doubt, the rice that provides 24% of the total diet, being the highest of all indices. If we compare this index with bean consumption (23%), almost equal to rice's, we can conclude that the Cuban agricultural worker feeds himself with rice and beans.
The survey did not study, for the inherent difficulties, the consumption of sugar. We can be certain, however, that sugar, in one form or another, is part of the daily diet of the Cuban peasant. Being a food with a very high energetic power, it also explains another important way to supply the caloric deficit of the standard ration. It is a known fact that the black slaves, and also in our days, above all immigrants from the Antilles, have maintained themselves for long periods of time almost exclusively eating "brown" sugar." Needless to say, sugar constitutes a magnificent source of calories, but it completely lacks proteins and fats, and other elements. Concerning green vegetables, they do not appear mentioned in any case.
This is the numeric truth, but the reality of life is more painful. The data are unable to
express the pathetic fact of a family that day after day sits at the table, or at whatever fulfills the functions of a table, to eat always the same, with minimal variations: rice, beans and viandas. Children and adolescents grow without hardly drinking milk at the age when it is most needed. Meats, raw vegetables, eggs... all absent from the daily ration.
What is behind this dramatic picture? Ignorance, of course, bad feeding habits from lack of education because of an attachment to irrational routine methods.
The picture of the guajiro exchanging his poultry and eggs for rice has here a vibrating significance. Also indolence in many cases: without doubts many peasants could grow
"Note of the translator: The term used is "prieta" (dark).
vegetables and raise livestock for self-consumption. But, in the background, we always find the economic problem, the misery. If the countryside does not consume what is produced in the countryside, what is at hand, is not always because of ignorance or bad feeding habits. It is because with great frequency it is really difficult to produce, or it is necessary to sell the products and acquire others more important to solve the awful problem of having to eat every day.
There is a reality that inspires meditation: the average monthly income of $45.00 is everywhere insufficient to feed a family that has, on the average, 6 persons per dwelling.
State of Physical Health
The data concerning the diseases present in the peasant's family have been obtained
through two methods: first, by asking directly if he suffered from such disease; second, by asking about those symptoms and syndromes whose existence allows one to assure or suspect the presence of a disease. The design of the questionnaire and its evaluation were conducted by medical personnel.
The index of tuberculosis infection in a community is a good index to assess the standard of living. The factors that help in the development of this disease are: bad diet, overcrowding and promiscuity in the dwelling, bad living habits, and physical exhaustion. For the same country, the low classes suffer much more from tuberculosis than the high classes. The contagion of tuberculosis takes place from person to person and the factors previously mentioned are almost always present in the places of low standards of living.
Supposedly, 14% of the peasants interviewed suffer or have suffered from tuberculosis.
Diseases of Hydro-Telluric Contamination
These are those diseases that are transmitted, not from person to person, but through the waters and the land. Some of them include: typhoid fever (commonly known in Cuba as typhus), intestinal infections from different germs, dysentery from amoebas, and intestinal parasitism.
Just as the tuberculosis index measures the economic level of a country, the index of
these diseases measures better than anything else the sanitary advancement of a community. The more aqueducts and the purer the waters of such aqueducts; the less contaminated the rivers' waters with human excrements; the less the use of human manure as fertilizer; the less the number of anti-hygienic privies, the less the number of these diseases will be.
Typhus has been present in 13% of the Cuban agricultural workers. This figure is
perfectly understandable if one recalls that only 6% of the housing units have water pipe lines;
that in the 64% of the cases with outdoor privy, this is rarely located more than 30 meters away from the well, which is the minimum distance required to avoid water contamination.
The figures are even more alarming concerning intestinal parasitism. Thirty-six percent declared without any doubt that they suffered from the disease. It is important to remember that a person knows that he or she is infected in two ways: because he or she has passed and seen the intestinal worms, or because an analysis of feces was conducted and the result was positive. Those who have not passed intestinal worms or have not had a test performed, are ignorant if they are suffering from parasitism or not. In fact, the index of parasitism is much greater than the result of our survey as corroborated by the experience of physicians in national hospitals.
There is a parasite in Cuba, which in general produces the worst cases, called Necator Americanus. This worm, as opposed to the others, is not acquired by ingestion. When a person with parasitism defecates on the soil, the egg of Necator develops, becomes larva and then this larva penetrates the bare foot puncturing the person's skin. We can deduce that the high index of infection from Necator is signaling three important facts: first, lack of sanitary privies; second, bad education concerning hygiene including depositions on the soil and walking barefooted; and third, as usual, the problem of the misery which impedes the purchasing of shoes.
Paludismn is mentioned as an antecedent by 3 1% of the peasants. In the case of paludism the means for contagion is the mosquito.
These are the whips of our rural population of 2,500,000 souls.
Having learned the sanitary level within which the life of the agricultural worker takes place, the inhabitant of the capital has all right to think that all salary earned is not enough to cover medical care. However, according to the survey, the average monthly expenses of a family for medical care is $2. This is for 6 persons that conformn the average family. It is evident that the majority of the diseases do not receive any medical attention.
The most startling figure is the following one: 80.76% stated that they received help only from a "paid" doctor; that is, a private physician that charges for his or her services. Only 8% receive free medical care from the State and this is a very significant figure. One has to remember that we are referring to the inland worker because in the small towns of the countryside it is a very different matter.
The boss or the union provides medical care to 4% of the agricultural workers and
another equal percentage of 4% receives professional care from private clinics. Although in our survey these data on private clinics have been classified in a common place, we have to point out that in practice all included in the answers were maintained by catholic institutions.
These private institutions, despite the lack of resources, render a service equal to that of unions and bosses and exactly one-half of the one rendered by the Cuban State.
To study this issue each inter-viewer asked first if there were medicines in the house,
requesting later that they be shown. In each instance, the type of medication and the laboratory, if it was a special one, were written down.
The most important results obtained are as follows: In 70.49% of the cases there were medications in the house at the time of the interview. Of these medicines, 46.67% were special formulas,"2 what are commonly referred to as prescriptions. The rest belonged to pharmaceutical specialties, commonly known as "patene"; that is, those manufactured by laboratories and sold in the pharmacy already packaged.
Of these medicines (patentes), 74.77% were from ethical laboratories; that is, from manufacturing labs which, in the physician's eyes, deserve moral credit. The remaining 25% belonged to non-ethical laboratories commonly known in Cuba as "laboratorios chiveros. "" These laboratories function in the following manner: they manufacture a series of products almost unusable with a very reduced cost of production which are offered as a business to doctors with a low ethics. The physician prescribes this medication and receives one-half of the profits. Since the product has a high price, this illegal business becomes an important source of income for the physician, to the point that there are professional doctors in the interior of the Republic who charge absolutely nothing for the appointment, living exclusively from the profits derived from the business with those laboratories. One-fourth of the medicines prescribed to the peasants by their doctors are medications from useless fakes.
What do you believe would be something beneficial for the improvement of the peasant's situation? This question, and the one that follows, are aimed at capturing the rural worker's attitude at the time of facing potential solutions to his problem: From what do you expect the solution? From Whom? Four possible sources of solution are offered to him: more schools, more roads and highways, more hospitals, and more sources of employment (Fig. 4).
A vast majority (73.46%) believes that the solution rests in more sources of employment. With insufficient earnings and a standard of living almost comparable to one of the semicivilized peoples subject to the colonizing abuse, the Cuban guajiro raises his voice to ask for
"2Note of the translator: They use the name 'f6rmulas magistrales".
13 Note of the translator: The word "chivero" comes from "chivo" which, literally, means "goat" but in this instance it means "fake".
80 Percent (%)
Jobs Roads Schools Hospitals
Fig. 4. Rates of responses to the question on which of the four Oobs, roads,
schools, or hospitals) is more necessary to better his living condition.
more work. He has six mouths at home to feed; 80% of his earnings come in the form of a salary, and not very large. He works only six months of the year but has to feed and clothe his family the other months also; yet he does not ask for wealth distribution or subsidies. He asks for work.
There is a fifth of the interviewees who do not ask for work but schools. Is it because he wants to educate his children so they aspire to what will take them away of the miseries of the countryside? Is it because of his desire of obtaining himself the necessary education to defend the just part of production that must be his, forcing the payment of higher salaries?
The fact that only 5% requested more roads should not be strange. Recall that we are
dealing with agricultural workers who do not posses anything and that cannot, therefore, derive a direct utility from the most efficient network of highways. It does indicate a more clear vision in this small percentage who have understood that more roads mean more production, more movement of wealth, more salaries for themselves.
Who do you think can do more to improve the peasant's situation? From whom are the peasants expecting a solution? What institutions, among those that include in their doctrine or in their program the social problem, have made the peasant feel that they defend or can defend him? Five of such institutions affected by the social obligation are offered to the agricultural worker: the government, the Church, the masons, the bosses, and the unions (Fig. 5).
10 3.43 6.82 4.3
Church Boss Government Union Freemasonry
Fig. 5. Rates of responses to the question on which of the five institutions
(church, boss, government, union, or freemasonry) could better his
First, the peasant turns his eyes to the government, as indicated by 69% of the
interviewees, as the institution called to solve his problem. Do not think by any means that this response implies a socialist tendency among the peasants; nothing is farther from his mind than the idea of a true socialism when providing this answer. The phenomenon is more simple and less doctrinaire. It is the lop-ical answer from a man who sees politics invading everything in his country, everything depending on politics. It is even more logical in a country as ours with a rigid economy where successes, failures or the delay in the economic development are fundamentally blamed on the State. The latter regulates production with quotas, protects it with tariffs and subsidies, stimulates it with developments and financing, controls profits with taxes, establishes costs with salaries and tariffs, sells in some instances the manufactured products, sets prices, norms leases... In short, it dominates the socioeconomic life of the nation. And, perhaps, behind that statement lies the secret hope of a peasant who, although deceived many times, has not lost that hope altogether. The secret hope of having, some day, a government that is honest, wise, in good faith, that really takes care of his needs.
The second institution chosen is that of the bosses (16.72%). The peasants' intuition indicates that, if it is a fact that the government has absorbed a great deal of the employers' functions and restricted the freedom enjoyed by employers in a free enterprise economy, it is also true that employers still keep the capital and technology necessaries for the production of wealth, which the agricultural worker wishes to reach with his hands' capital.
It is remarkable that the peasant trusts little, very little, his unions as the key to the solution of his problems. See to what point are so little "red"" the feelings of the Cuban agricultural worker. Only 6.82% named the unions as institutions capable of solving his problem.
The Church, cradle and first source of the legitimate social aspirations; heiress and depository of Christ's teachings, goes almost unnoticeable to the peasant's eyes. There is no doubt that the peasantry, in its large majority, completely ignores that such wants affect not even from afar the Saint Mother Church. Also without a doubt is the fact that the scarcity of priests and other means make it difficult or completely impede in many cases the putting into practice of such unavoidable duty. But it is also true, one has to recognize, that we Catholics have sinned by omission. Thanks God that there is still a 3% of agricultural workers who expect help from the Church!
A 4.30% of the interviewees chose Freemasonry as the institution that can improve their situation. This is explained by the fraternal character, of social help, with which masons cloak themselves. The curious phenomenon is that only 2% of the peasants confessed to be masons, while twice that percentage was expecting help from Freemasonry. Such a difference represents a sector of the peasantry likely to listen to the campaign of Masonic proselytism.
From the cold numeric columns of the survey comes out a terrifying figure: 43% of the peasants do not know how to read and write. Almost one-half of the population of agricultural workers! This figure has to necessarily have its concomitant in the graph of school attendance (Fig. 6). And, surely, we find that 44% of agricultural workers have never attended school.
What can be the reason for such state of affairs? Several answers come to mind
immediately. First, the scarcity of rural classrooms. Second, the bad distribution of teachers. We do not refer to the scarcity of teachers, although it is evident, but to the concentration of teachers in large populated areas to the detriment of rural areas.
The rural classroom serves, with great frequency, as a springboard to obtain a transfer to the capital in the least possible time; time that is measured by the political influences the teacher has. It is a common fact in the countryside that the teacher who starts a school year does not finish it because a transfer to Havana was obtained. In the capital, on the other hand, classrooms with less than 10 pupils are common. There are examples of classrooms equipped with a very reduced number of students that had to be divided in two classrooms to provide room for a
14Note of the translator: The word "red" is used by the authors of the document as a
synonymof "communist" because many unions in pre- 1959 Cuba were under the influence of communist leaders while others were completely dominated by them.
60 53.6 55.89
50 .. .... 41 Doesn't read or write
43 4411WilReads and writes
40 0Reads but doesn't write
30 M Never attended school
21.66 EiliAttended school
20 OBeyond 3rd. grade
Fig. 6. Rates of responses about the degree of literacy of the head of the family.
newly created classroom because a rural credit had been transferred to Havana.
It must be said, however, in defense of teachers, that the rural teacher faces big and serious obstacles to perform his or her duties. It is only human to try to avoid a problematic situation which lacks every incentive.
In addition to teachers, rural schools are also badly distributed. Anyone traveling on Cuban highways has been able to notice a series of country schools recently built, especially during the government of Dr. Grau San Martin,"5 but all these schools are located along the arteries of the Central Highway. When one goes inland they are not that numerous.
If we analyze the part of responsibility that could belong to the peasant it is possible to find (and now we are hypothesizing) a number of cases in which the father does not have the interest he should in sending his children to school. That is possible, and even probable, but we would have to evaluate also the real difficulties faced in the majority of the cases. These difficulties could be measured and expressed in terms of distance and lack of means. Let us also remember the pathetic problem of child work. It is true that many times the father is forced to employ his minor children in tasks which are inappropriate to their age and that prevent them to obtain even a rudimentary education.
"5Note of the translator: Ram6n Grau San Martin was President of Cuba during the period 1944-48. Despite his many mistakes, this social-democrat was a believer in democracy.
As in past times, the type of housing more frequently found is the classic "bohlo" whose characteristics do not seem to reflect the passing of time with its new building technologies. As we have noted previously, ACU's research in the housing aspects followed similar criteria to those in the 1953 census which allow us to present a true description of housing characteristics.
The house's main function is to isolate its occupants from the outside environment in a comfortable physical and spiritual climate. The needs of the peasant's house can be fulfilled insofar as materials are concerned, with the combination of concrete floor, wooden walls and roof of guano, when it is not possible to provide for brick or hewn stone walls which are commonly classified as masonry houses. With one or another combination that, when other conditions are fulfilled, the dwelling falls within the minimum required to provide an adequate housing. With those value judgments we can better appreciate the combinations of materials which combine to give shape to the houses of agricultural workers (Table 2).
Table 2. Predominant combinations of materials in the houses of Cuban agricultural
Walls, roof and floor Percentage of total
Masonry, roof tiles and cement 0.80
Wood, roof tiles and concrete tiles 2.50
Wood, roof tiles and cement 1.70
Wood, roof tiles, soil 2.04
Wood, roof tiles, wood 7.37
Wood, palm leaves, cement 19.49
Wood, palm leaves, So il 60.35
By looking at the previous Table it is easily observed that only 31.86%, less than onethird of the housing, reached in 1957 the minimal required conditions concerning materials of acceptable characteristics. If, on the other hand, we consider that not all houses that fulfill the minimal conditions concerning materials satisfy the remaining sanitary norms, conservation status and other requirements to be considered an adequate housing, we can see how only an even more reduced number of the peasant population has solved their housing problem.
One of the most important characteristics of every dwelling is the existence of toilets and their condition. We assume that, if not all peasant families could enjoy a sanitary installation with the advantages that are commonly offered in the city, at least they could enjoy an outdoor privy because it is cheap and easy to build. It should be located outside the main body of the house. This proposition will be accepted as logic and little ambitious by the person who knows its characteristics; however, the current reality shown in Table 3 does not even reach the theoretical minimum we aspire to obtain. Table 3. Type and location of sanitary facilities in the houses of Cuban agricultural
Type and location of sanitary facility Percent
Indoor toilet 2.08
Outdoor toilet 7.60
Indoor privy 1.28
Outdoor privy 25.08
Without toilet or privy 63.96
Bathroom and Shower
It is logical to consider the bathroom or shower as a complement of every sanitary
installation. We suppose, however, that the existence of an outdoor bathroom or shower, since it does not have the sanitary importance of the privy, is an object easy to reach. That is true because we define the bathroom or shower simply as a room especially devoted to cleanliness. We do not assume necessarily the existence of running water unless we understand as such the supply by gravity from a tank fed by a hand-pump from a nearby well. Notwithstanding the former, the figures shown below appear to contradict our theoretical assumptions (Table 4). Table 4. Type and location of bathroom or shower in the houses of Cuban agricultural
Type and location of bathroom or shower Percent
Bathroom or indoor shower 5.76
Bathroom or outdoor shower 11.62
Without bathroom or shower 82.62
From the previous section one can infer the number of houses that have installations for running water as the main supplier of their drinking water needs. We pointed out to the possibility of the existence of an installation for indoor water that comes from a nearby well. Although it is relatively easy to obtain, it is not present in more than 8% of the cases, as shown in Table 5.
In the cases in which water is obtained from a well, it is generally transported to the
house in different containers from which it is drunk as needed. When the water is taken from a well one can observe that, in many cases, the well is not located far enough from the outdoor privy or other deposit of sewage, which results in frequent cases of water contamination. To our regret, we do not have a frequency distribution of the distances between the well and the places of contamination. However, we can accept that a good part of the 42.22% of houses reported in bad sanitary conditions, was evaluated in function of the deficient supply of drinking water. The figures in Table 5 show the manner in which the supply of water is distributed to the peasants' houses.
Table 5. Water supply distribution in the houses of Cuban agricultural workers.
Type of water supply distribution Percent
Aqueduct water with indoor installation 3.24
Aqueduct water connected outside of the house 2.54
Water of cistern with indoor installation 5.42
Water taken directly from a river 0.30
Water of well 88.50
Let us go now to the analysis of the means that provide lighting to the peasants' houses (Table 6). The enjoyment of electric service does not have to be considered as indispensable in the life of the agricultural workers, even more when we determine a logical order of priorities in necessary improvements.
It is convenient to establish the psychological advancement that having access to electricity represents to the peasant population. This makes the meaning of public service entirely understood, as well as the economic sacrifice that entails the fulfillment of the demand for electric energy of this marginal sector.
Table 6. Means of lighting in the houses of Cuban agricultural workers. Means of lighting Percent
Acetylene and carbide 0.74
Considering the facilities present in the peasant house, it is necessary to investigate its capacity to house, with the minimum of required amplitude, the average peasant family. House Densily
It was impossible to perform a complete evaluation of the house density per dwelling.
Instead, we obtained a datum that makes it easy to assess to what degree our peasants count with a house that allows them to have the necessary privacy and amplitude needed by the different groups that compose their families.
The need for three sleeping areas in each house is commonly accepted. They allow the separation of parents from their children, enabling the latter to have bedrooms by sex. This division assumes that there are no other couples living in the same dwelling, something which occurs frequently. Table 7 only shows the number of rooms without analyzing the possibility that, in cases where only one or two rooms are used, no more are needed at present. In these cases it not acceptable to assume that an increase in the necessities of the family could be fulfilled by moving to another house or by adding other rooms. The most common case is that the family keeps constraining its needs. This is because they lack the material means to expand the house or to move to a larger one. It is also due to the ignorance of their needs, which is a more troublesome case sociologically speaking. Table 7. Number of rooms utilized to sleep in the houses of Cuban agricultural workers.
Number of room used to sleep Percent
As shown in Table 7, only 1.64% of the peasants' houses have the capacity to house an average family composed of the parents, two sons, two daughters and, occasionally, one relative or friend passing by. If the damages done to the morale by this promiscuous situation are more serious than those from the absence of sanitary installations or the existence of a floor of soil, is a matter impossible to evaluate based on economic theory and even with the use of the most advanced econometric techniques.
One can assume that, if all disciplines ought to be subordinated to a logical moral scale of values, the same order has to be accepted for the weight that we assign to the injuries to either one.
Rates of responses summarizing the conditions of the houses of agricultural workers are shown in Fig. 7.
50 Percent 42.34
Good Moderate Bad
Fig. 7. Rates of responses about the condition of the house.
Level of Incomes
The main objective of the survey was to investigate the level of incomes and the working regime of the agricultural worker. This was done by asking the interviewee directly the incomes that were obtained from the different works performed during the year, as well as the working regime. His own production, that later was to be valued according to the retail prices in the community, was also investigated.
The first result that stands out when studying the working regime is that, in 49.54% of the occupations, work takes place the 7 days of the week. A 35.9% works 6 days, while 15.07% does so less than 5 days a week. This information, of course, does not represent annual employment but the working regime in the different tasks that are remunerated in salary, which is the subject of this study.
Another interesting figure is that the mechanization of agricultural work appears in only 4% of the cases, while manual work is done by 86%.
Concerning the age composition of the labor force of the heads of the family, 15%
reports being older than 60. At the age when they must be enjoying the tranquility of retirement they have to continue working in the hardest tasks. We can add as an interesting figure that one of our interviewers found a 93 years old peasant who still works to support his family.
When we study the payments regime we observe that, in 6% of the cases, part of the salary is paid in vouchers. One-half of that 6% is paid 100% in vouchers. Of course, these are not the known vouchers of the sugarcane plantations, 16 equivalent to cash. These are methods of payment given by the boss himself which are good only to purchase merchandise in his stores. Also, 2.5% receives part of the salary in food and 1% the entire salary in food.
16Note of the translator: The word used was "colon las". A colonia was a sugarcane farm owned by a "colono" that milled his cane in a sugar mill belonging to someone else. That cane is called "independent cane". The grower of "administration cane" grinds his cane in a mill of his property.
Distribution of Income
Let us see now how they distribute their income. This was studied by asking for the
expenditures of the prior month (Fig. 8). The amount of the expenses was of $50.33 and of these he devotes 69.30% to food. If we compare this figure with the one obtained by Foreign Policy in 1934 we see that food expenditures are 10% greater today than then. This is explained by the fact that, while his current salary is 194% more than in 1934, the level of food prices is 228% higher. Since the diet has a lower limit which always has to be reached, the agricultural worker solves the disequilibrium between his level of salary and the price level by devoting only 10% more of his salary to food. That is the amount strictly necessary to keep the minimum diet he already had in 1934.
It is convenient to point out here that in Europe, the United States and Canada food
expenditures range between 30% and 45%, while in Asia they fluctuate between 55% to 75%. Therefore, when a Cuban agricultural worker devotes 70% of his income to food he is approaching the index of the most backward countries of the Asian continent.
10 7.51 7.44
Housing Clothing Food Services Several
$0.86 $7.08 $34.87 $3.87 $3.75
Fig. 8. Expenditures in previous month, by item and relative importance.
With that background, the figure on incomes herein presented should not be a surprise. The annual median of the income of a family of 6 persons, where each of the salaried workers works 23 hours per week, is of 548.75 pesos (I peso = $1), including incomes from their own crops (Fig. 9). In this case, although not as pronounced as in the survey conducted by the National Bank in the urban sector, a deficit of 50.00 pesos per year is present. It was not analyzed how it was solved but one can accept the hypothesis that this is done through debts and also through remittances from other sectors.
The median of the monthly disposable income is 45.72 pesos. However, if we analyze the histogram with the accumulated frequencies we see how 50% of our interviewees did not even reach that level (Fig. 10 and Fig. 11). How can the agricultural worker support a family with only $0.25 per day per person, $0.17 of which is devoted to feed them with prices very similar to those in urban areas? The answer to that question, which has bothered all who have worked in this survey, we pass on to those readers with more knowledge than us on the cost of feeding a family.
Head's salary Others'salaries Sales Other
$27.04 $5.19 $6.91 $0.91
Fig. 9. Income in cash in previous month, by item and relative importance.
Annual media 97.03 100
$548.75 87.33 92.79 97.03
$ 0.25/person/day 71.68 78.96
1.03 7.28 11.07
0) 0) 0) 0') 0D 0M 0) 0) 0) 0) 0) 0)
0 0) 0) 0) 0) 0) 0) 0) 0) 0) 0) 0)
C ) C CO 0)
o a I I I I I I I a o
04 Ce) L() t I,.- CO 0) 0 0
Fig. 10. Histogram of cumulative family income levels for agricultural workers.
$ 0.25/person/day 15.66
9.79 10.84 10.2
0) 0) 0) ) 0) 0 0) 0) 0) 0M 0) 0)
0 ) 0) 0) 0) 0) a) 0) 0') 0) 0) M I') U) CD Nl- CO 0) 0) T
o I I I lI I I I I
o o 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 ,
o 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
M ) U) (,0 N- CO 0) 0 0
Fig. 11. Histogram of family income levels for agricultural workers.
We have shown the data we found with complete objectivity. We are not exaggerating. The objective of this study is not to reach conclusions which indicate to us the possible solutions in a concrete form. There are many solutions if we want to act in good faith. Neither are we going to analyze in a detailed manner the causes that have led to the current situation. We only want to state, in a categorical and sound manner, that we are not fulfilling our duty as Cubans, neither are we fulfilling our duty as Catholics, if we do not make a sincere and effective effort to remedy the current situation. The unsurpassable Cuban land and the work of our agricultural worker have produced much wealth to our Fatherland; but the agricultural worker does not participate in the benefits of that wealth.
The responsibilities of that great social sin fall upon all of us, although not in equal amounts. They fall upon the governments that have not known to enact the national laws to stimulate a greater production and a better distribution. They fall upon the capitalists who have not wanted to put in production, with the greatest possible efficiency, their material goods and, when they have done it, they have not fulfilled the social function of production of sharing equitably the benefits produced.
The responsibilities also fall upon the professional and intellectual leaders because they have not put their intellects to work, even in part, to organize and direct the Cuban socioeconomic problem. It directly affects some more than others; but it affects all of us deeply.
His Holiness Pope Pius XII has said: "if the necessary social reforms are not carried out with vigor and without delays to put them into practice, it is useless to pretend an effective defense of the public order, the peace and tranquility of human society ( ... ). It is unfortunately true that the behavior of some Catholics has contributed to weaken the trust of the workers in the religion of Jesus Christ."
It is already time for our Nation to cease being the private fief of some powerful ones. We have the firm hope that, within a few years, Cuba will not be the property of a few but the true Fatherland of all the Cubans. We also have the firm conviction that, in this task of social redemption of the Cuban citizen, Catholicism, every time more vigorous in our Nation, will have an important and effective role to play.
12ldlO 1 34-MO
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
31262 07097 5957