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Challenge in the Soil

Fernando Medina

Batabanó, Cuba. February 2015

Though wages are low, Cuba’s collective agriculture economy draws workers from around the country looking for opportunity. Organized into Basic Units of Cooperative Production (UBPC), they live and work together on state land.

San Jorge Camp, in the town of Cardona, is home to UBPC Commander Guevara. Here, workers are provided lodging and food and receive base pay of 30 Cuban pesos (approximately $1.25) for an 8-hour day’s work in under the sun. Workers are divided into two groups: those who fill the sacks and those who lift them to the trucks. The first group earns 1 Cuban peso for each sack they fill, the loaders are paid .06 peso.

The harvesters first load the potatoes into cans, once they have filled four cans they have filled a sack. Working in pairs, laborers can collect more than 80 sacks a day, boosting their earnings to about $3.25.

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