Cuba's "Pijamas Plan"

Thursday, October 16, 2014
From the Prague-based NGO, People in Need:

Have you ever heard of the "Pijamas Plan"in Cuba?

The term has been used informally for quite some time in Cuba. What does it actually mean? In the past it was mainly used in instances when a politician, who had started to get too big for his britches or that the regime had decided they had no use for anymore, would be stripped of his position. It also represents a violation of a basic human right: the right to work.

Thanks to the Eye on Cuba project, we have been able to learn more about some of these cases and to bring them to the public’s attention.

Nowadays ordinary citizens from civil society are also “benefiting” from this plan. The new twist is that the victims are not always political dissidents, although they represent the majority of the cases. People are being left without a job at the first sign of openly showing opposition towards any rules and orders coming from above, or if they have a family member who is opposed to the regime.

Another important aspect of this is that the targeted individuals are typically accused of false charges and thefts, threatened and humiliated, sometimes in public, which leads them to being isolated within their own communities. In this way the authorities are deliberately trying to disrupt their social lives.

They are also left without a source of income. So the consequences of being deprived of work may result in other universal human rights being violated, such as the right to decent housing, the right to have decent living conditions or the right to not be discriminated against in general.

Yoleidis Alfonso Nava is a specialist in urban agriculture by profession, but in her free time she has been doing independent reporting as a citizen journalist on the current issues affecting the local community of Holguin. For this reason, she was notified in 2013 that she was going to be relocated to another work place. However, a year later, she is still waiting for news about a new position from the authorities.

Armando Gonzales Benitez was fired from his job at the International School Miramar allegedly for incompetence after having worked in this school as a custodian for ten years. Armando is the husband of the independent blogger Dora Leonor Mesa Crespo, who is also the leader of the Cuban Association for the Development of Early Childhood Education (ACDEI) based in Havana. He had been constantly questioned about his wife’s activities during his employment. Since being laid off, he hasn’t been allowed to appeal to any court to challenge this decision.

Geovanis Fixto Cuza was fired from his workplace as an entrance security guard at a school in 2013 for allowing a Cuban residing in the USA to visit a family member who was studying at the Center for Pedagogical Studies. When the director learned that he had allowed this person free access into the student center, a commission was set up to decide whether or not he should leave. Fixto tried to appeal this decision in the municipal court without success. He claims there isn’t any law that prevents a foreign citizen from entering a school.

These are just a few examples meant to show how the “Pajamas Plan” works in Cuba and how citizens are being unfairly repressed.