One day I remarked to a Cuban how I admired his skill in cutting cane — it was almost like an art, the way he did it. He thanked me for the compliment, but quickly added that his skill was a skill that needed to become obsolete. Cane-cutting was inhuman toil, he said. Before the revolution thousands had had to depend for their survival on working like animals during the cane season. Many of them would end up having to cut off a finger with the machete for a little insurance money to make ends meet a little while longer.
The job of cutting cane had become qualitatively different since the revolution. No one was a cane-cutter by trade any longer; during the cane season everyone pitched in. Also profits for others were not being squeezed from their sweat and toil. They knew that the returns from sugar sales abroad would be used to raise the living standards of the Cuban people as a whole — new schools would be built, more hospitals constructed; child care centers would multiply, better housing would be available to those who had the greatest need.