The People Who Read to Cuban-Cigar Factory Workers

Written by Sophia Bass
The Economist article provides insight into the lives of Cuba’s cigar-factory workers. Lectores have been reading at cigar factories since 1865, when Nicolas Azcarate, a leader of a movement for political reform, proposed that education should be instilled in the minds of factory workers. Cigar workers began listening to texts such as “The Count of Monte Cristo,” as they were stuck in the monotony of making cigars. These texts helped factory workers to take their minds off of tedious labor while also providing workers an education. Many believe that the influence of the texts on cigar workers contributed to Cuba’s independence from Spain.

Today, nearly 200 Lectores are still in Cuba. While Cuba’s merchandise exports fell by 33% in 2016, Cigars continue to be one of the leading export industries as they rose by 5% to $445m. UNESCO is considering to designate la lectura as a form of “cultural heritage” to help keep it going throughout Cuba.

“This is the only job in Cuba that is democratically decided,” expresses an employee. The factory workers actually get to choose the lectores. They vote on which books will be read and the audience is always demanding.

Many lectores move beyond their role and go on to become counselors or community leaders. As Cuban cigar-factory workers have found contentment in novels for decades, they value their education and wish to keep this cultural practice alive.

For more information on this article, go to The Economist Article


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