The FAR does ‘patriotic work’, but its officers are quitting
CARLOS TRUJILLO HERRERA | La Habana | 5 de Junio de 2017 – 12:53 CEST.
Although the Revolutionary Armed Forces (FAR) strive to project an image
of strength, especially in inland Cuba, they have not been able to stop
the flight of officers, a problem apparently on the rise at the
institution, particularly in the capital, according to inside sources.
The Army ‘s Political Section takes an interest and seeks to stem the
loss of staff through what it calls “patriotic work,” consisting of
addressing each individual case and trying to “convince” the officer of
the “importance of his mission,” the “advantages” of the Armed Forces,
and the “virtues” the Revolution that they must protect.
However, these efforts fall on deaf ears in the cases of many officials
whose expectations from when they joined the Army were never fulfilled,
Most of them chose military life very young, when they entered the
pre-university military division known as Camilitos. Then they spent
three years in cadet school. Now they are willing to throw away all
those years of preparation after enduring day-to-day life in the armed
Even a high salary, compared to those received by those in other
sectors, fails to retain them. Many spend months away from their
families, such that when they return home they are seen almost as strangers.
Those from the East of the country and who work in Havana see the army
as the only way to get a home, so they try to stay in the service long
enough to be assigned one. This “privilege” keeps them around, as, if
they leave the FAR, they must give it up.
While waiting for a residence many live in Army “hotels,” where they put
up with appalling conditions. Sometimes, due to poor planning, they run
out of food, and restrictions on oil supplies mean that the buses leave
them in remote locations.
Those not even assigned a space at a hotel end up sleeping in their
offices, often on the floor, as the supply of mattresses it not well
planned either. The same goes for the rest of the items considered
“basic,” such as TVs, refrigerators, and even shoes, which officers are
supposed to receive as a “stimulus.”
Faced with disorganization and neglect, it is not surprising that many
officers, especially young ones, struggle to abandon the institution.
They must wait eight years to do so, and during this time their
disillusionment only grows.
“I am totally disenchanted with the Army,” says a lieutenant who
resigned a few months ago. “All the ideas I had back when I was in
school were total lies. I have a young daughter and a wife to support,
and with the salary they give me, it’s impossible. I’m missing my
daughter’s childhood, for nothing. I need to be home to support my
family. I’m tired of all the lies. “
Some do not mention disappointment, but rather fatigue, but their relief
when they return to civilian life is evident.
“I did not leave just like that, like many people do,” says a lieutenant
colonel who had been waiting for his retirement for years. “I was there
for many, many years, and I wanted to leave with my morale intact …
but I was itching to,” he admits. “I went to two wars and I was tired,
but, since there is a shortage of officers, they did not want to let me
go. They said they were waiting for a replacement for me. Now that I’m a
civilian, I’m enjoying the best years of my life. “
The example of those who have managed to get out also encourage the
officers to rethink their life goals.
“Now I’m better,” says an former captain who has been out of the FAR for
years. “I work on my own, working as a taxi driver in my family’s car,
and I can’t wait for them to lift my foreign travel restriction, because
I want to leave.”
As for what he is going to do outside the country, he does not have an
exact idea, but he sees it as a way to make a total break with the
soldier that he once was.
“I can work in anything. I’ll do whatever, except for anything in the
Army. I will never, ever go back to that shit again.”
The Military Region of Havana has been that most affected by the
resignations so far, because the capital has more opportunities for
employment, formal and informal, than the rest of the country.
The Army continues with its “patriotic work” and other measures, such as
replacing military commanders with others accustomed to a stronger work
structure, such as that which prevails in other parts of the country,
where officers are also struggling but where most stay in the FAR.
Source: The FAR does ‘patriotic work’, but its officers are quitting |
Diario de Cuba – www.diariodecuba.com/cuba/1496659996_31653.html