HAVANA, Jan. 23 . Cubans who are currently without papers in Russia have become the new workforce for the public services of Vladimir Putin’s government, facing the historic cold wave that has kept Moscow thermometers below 50 degrees.
With shovels in hand, they walk the streets of the Arbat and Khamovniki districts, wearing the recognizable orange vests that identify the state workers recruited by the president. Its mission is to deploy 150,000 pieces of equipment 24 hours a day, in this way it copes with extreme conditions.
Speaking Spanish gave them away. They revealed that they did not come from Africa but from Cuba, while their immigration status remains in limbo. During their stay in Moscow, they try to earn a few rubles to survive in the country.
Most left Havana with a tourist visa to see if they could work for at least a year. The cold of Russia burns their hands and their bones ache from the hours of work, but the reality is that necessity also pressures them.
This group of immigrants, for these tasks, has a foreman who organizes and instructs them in their functions. Those who comply receive 34,000 rubles (9,330 Cuban pesos, which in the informal market become 33 dollars), an amount that doubles the 4,000 pesos that a worker on the island receives, a figure that stands at 14 dollars after the currency Cuban currency will be quoted at 280 pesos per dollar.
Infiltrated and deceived
Putin’s Government infiltrates Cubans as snowplows in the operations deployed by the Kremlin, even though this group of foreigners has ‘illegal’ status in the nation.
Despite this, the orders that come from the Executive focus on keeping them active to face the cold. From there assignments arise such as removing the 40 centimeters of snow accumulated in the south and southeast of Moscow, but the president hides the information.
According to the media MSK1.RU, although the State Budgetary Institution Zhilishchnik Arbat District denies the hiring of Cuban street sweeper brigades, claiming that they only have personnel from the Commonwealth of Independent States, the press service of the prefecture of the Central Administrative District confirmed that Cubans are indeed helping in all these functions.
Hiding it is impossible because there is already a history of a network of trafficking of Cubans to Russia with the complicity of the Castro-communist regime led by Miguel Díaz-Canel. On that occasion, the island’s dictatorship facilitated recruitment to fight in the invasion of Ukraine.
The offer for this was obtaining Russian citizenship for the signatories and their families. Added to this was a payment of around 2,300 euros. These findings were known at the same time as the sending of Cuban troops to Belarus, to “receive military training.”
The desire for Putin’s armed conflict against Ukraine depleted Russia’s workforce, as indicated by a study by the Institute of Economics of the Russian Academy of Sciences, which reports a shortage of 4.8 million workers, especially where there is no They require high qualifications: janitors and workers in general.
In the worst season
The Cubans who are today in Russia in illegal conditions are today facing the largest snowfall in Moscow in almost 150 years. So far, thermometers have registered close to 20 degrees below zero, while in Siberia they reach 50 degrees below zero.
It is an icy wave that spreads from the northern hemisphere. The forecasts point to the persistence of unbearable weather conditions for work.
Despite this scenario, Cubans accept these jobs, whose function includes withstanding wind gusts of up to 144 kilometers per hour. They have no choice, given the irregular immigration status that prevents them from improving their employment opportunities.
In 2019 alone, nearly 28,000 Cubans entered Russia with a tourist visa. Since then, they have resisted from the pandemic to the war against Ukraine that Putin unleashed.
“We Cubans, within Russia, are a business that makes a lot of money because we do not have legal status and the companies do not hire us but rather put us to work for a salary that is very, very below what is paid,” confessed a Cuban anonymously to El Periódico last year.
Returning to the island is unlikely. A plane ticket is around 790 euros (more than 800 dollars), an unaffordable figure for any Cuban in Moscow, considering that his monthly salary does not exceed 250 dollars and more than half covers food and rent expenses.
The hope they have is to turn Russia into a “springboard” to reach another European country, preferably Spain and Italy, Serbia, Finland or Belarus.