Lunes, 9 de Diciembre de 2019
Última actualización: 16:13 CET
The Army

The FAR does 'patriotic work', but its officers are quitting

Graduation of FAR cadets. (JUVENTUD REBELDE)

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, sources indicate.

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 institution.

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.

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