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Youth Labor Army [Ejrcito Juvenil del Trabajo]

In time the militia was so greatly expanded by recruitment under pressure that its revolutionary zeal was considerably diluted. By 1961 Castro transferred his favor and reliance to the newly organized Rebel Youth, who were by then his most fanatical followers. In general, the Rebel Youth, a part-time force, has only light arms which are issued to them only on occasion. They are not capable of sustained combat, but are effective for controlling and coercing the general public. In addition, some selected units of the Rebel Youth are specially armed and trained and are, in effect, army units specially dedicated to Fidel Castro.

The Youth Labor Army (EJT) is, by law, a paramilitary organization under the direct control of MINFAR. It was formally established on 3 August 1973 by combining two similar organizations: the Centennial Youth Column (CJC) and the Permanent Infantry Divisions (DIP). The consolidation enabled the Cuban Government to eliminate existing duplication and manage the large labor force more efficiently.

Also in August 1973, the Cuban Government expanded its compulsory service laws to require all male citizens to serve for 3 years in either MINFAR (including the EJT) or in MININT. Those who obtain deferrals for technical or advanced training are obligated to "social service" for up to 3 years in one of several government agencies. Under the 1973 Law of Compulsory Military Service, draftees receive a heavy dose of ideological instruction. Other military institutional mechanisms that are used to attempt to socialize male youths not deemed fit for regular service - whether for ideological orientation, social attitudes, or poor academic preparation - have included the notorious Military Units in Support of Production (Unidades Militares de Ayuda a la Produccion-UMAPs).

The intent of the UMAPs' forced labor camps, while they were operational in the 1963-65 period, was to punish and modify the behavior of "antisocial" individuals, including religious believers and homosexuals. In more recent years, many draftees have been made to serve in the EJT (Youth Labor Army). These militarized but poorly trained units perform primarily economic tasks, such as sugarcane harvesting and construction work.

Military service has acted as a socialization agent since mandatory male military service began in 1963. As part of the professionalization effort, the Youth Labor Army (EJT) was established in August 1973 as a paramilitary labor force. The formation of the EJT allowed the regular military, which had devoted a significant part of its manpower to civic action projects since the advent of compulsory service in 1963, to devote full time to military matters.

The EJT served as a support force for production over the course of its first 20 years. In 1993, when it was assigned the responsibility of managing and managing the state farms integrally, he assumed the process of productive economic management of his units.

This Army has participated in different productive tasks related to agriculture (sugar cane and not cane), constructive, railway, marketing and health (antivectorial) activities. In all of them, the spirit of consecration of its members has prevailed in order to achieve efficient results in the work, maintaining direct relations with the Organisms of the Central State Administration that attend these spheres. Particular attention required the incorporation of the EJT forces in the Turquino Plan, which contributed to the economic, political, social and cultural development of the mountainous areas.

During the special period, the process that led to the delivery of companies under management contracts began, as well as the creation of agricultural markets. Also, as a result of the intensification of the campaign against the Aedes aegypti mosquito, the first units that carried out the focal and adulticide work were formed in Havana City. In this regard, the EJT has been a training school for Cuban youth. The intense work regime, organization, demand and discipline that has always characterized this institution, have contributed to forge the will, character and revolutionary convictions.

In Law 75/94 of National Defense, it is defined that the Youth Labor Army is a grouping of forces and means that is part of the ground troops of the Revolutionary Armed Forces, its members are active military and its structure is contemplated the category of civil workers.

It is designed to:

  • Perform productive activities in the interest of the country's economic and social development.
  • Execute measures for the protection of the environment and the rational use of natural resources.
  • Prepare its members militarily and participate in the armed struggle.
  • Contribute to the patriotic, military, sports and cultural education and training of young people. Its main functions include:
  • Create and maintain an organized force with high productivity, and at the same time, its troops have a military preparation that allows them to participate in the defense of the Homeland.
  • Direct the production system and subordinate services and maintain direct relationships, for all legal, economic and administrative purposes, with the agencies of the Central State Administration and its dependencies.
  • Maintain under contract of administration, agricultural companies whose structures include the cooperative sector.
  • Preserve the heritage of state farms, belonging to the agency with which links are established.

The Youth Labor Army (EJT) comprises of the terrestrial troops of the Revolutionary Armed Forces and has the following main missions:

  • To make productive activities in interest of the economic-social development of the country. The first, and most important mission is to contribute to the country's economic development. This is accomplished by having EJT members work in the sugar industry, on the railroads, and in the construction industries. The EJT is accomplishing its assigned economic missions. Its personnel harvested about one-quarter of the sugarcane that is cut by hand by 1980. It also executes measures for the protection of the environment and the rational use of the natural resources.
  • To contribute to the education and patriotic, military, labor, sport and cultural formation of the young people. The EJT's second mission is the indoctrination and education of all its personnel. All FJT members receive indoctrination and are expected to have at least a sixth-grade education upon completion of their FJT service.
  • To prepare militarily to its members and to participate in the accomplishment of the armed warfare. The third mission of the EJT is to assist with territorial defense. In wartime, the FJT would supplement the regular and reserve ground forces. However, EJT members have received only training in elementary infantry subjects, and do not participate in military exercises with the regular and reserve forces. Therefore, their potential effectiveness is questionable.

The EJT is structured in divisions, regiments and battalions. The EJT National Headquarters directs regional headquarters, of which there are at least six. The regional headquarters structure is similar to that of the National Headquarters. Units subordinate to the regional headquarters are organized along military lines; however, units do vary greatly in organization and strength and should not be compared to regular and reserve Army units of the same designations. Most EJT units are stationed in the eastern half of Cuba.

EJT units use 5-digit Military Unit Numbers (MUN). Some battalion-size units also are identified either by a one-digit ordinal number (example: First Battalion) or by a location (example: the "Jaitibonico Battalion") or both. Units above battalion are also frequently identified by location. The sugarcane-cutting "brigades" (platoons) are named in honor of a Cuban or foreign martyr or after an historic Cuban event (example: the "Victoria de Giron Brigade," commemorating the Bay of Pigs victory in April 1961).

The EJT is composed primarily of personnel inducted under the compulsory service laws. There are also a number of volunteers who are mostly women. Some of the cadre are members of the regular Army. Most of the inductees are less qualified, particularly educationally, than those who enter the regular armed forces. Some of them are required to serve in the EJT because of their "antisocial behavior." The EJT rank system, modeled after the regular Army, ranges from "EJT private" to "EJT colonel." The EJT, like the regular Army, also has technical ranks. Regular Army officers who are occasionally assigned to the EJT retain their regular rank. The EJT's work uniform is a beige shirt with green pants.

Their members completely receive the wages or salaries established for the work that make, like the rest of the workers of the country. EJT members receive a salary commensurate with the quality and quantity of work performed and comparable to civilian pay scales. They also receive a 1-month vacation each year. Most live in barracks in military camps where they are fed and clothed.

The EJT is responsible for its own training. The recruits receive 1 month of military training upon induction and periodic refresher courses thereafter. The training is limited to indoctrination, physical training, military discipline, some small arms instruction and small unit (squad and platoon) tactics. The EJT has small arms. They may have some crew-served weapons such as mortars. Upon completion of service in the EJT, members are required to register for the reserves. Their elementary military training serves as a basis for the more advanced training they receive in the reserves. Those members who are trained in technical skills are expected to continue using them in civilian life.

Paramilitary forces in general include a civil defense force of 50,000 and the Youth Labor Army (Ejrcito Juvenil de Trabajo EJT). The EJTs membership has ranged from 65,000 to 100,000, depending on the source, but was approximately 70,000 in 2006. Primarily an organized labor force under the control of the Joint General Staff, the EJT has military training and equipment. Cuba's paramilitary units, such as the Youth Labor Army devoted to agricultural production, have suffered considerable degradation of morale and training. However, their core personnel still have the potential to make an enemy invasion costly.

In the sugarcane production activity, the country's strongest agricultural work, the Army youth have cut more than 175.6 million tons of cane. The derived sugar is equivalent to more than 20 million metric tons, production that represents the result of three large harvests in the country.

The Army met or exceeded its plan in 32 of the 36 harvests in which it has participated. It turned out 12 times the most productive force in the country, accumulating a 106 percent lifetime compliance with its harvest plans.

He has also actively participated in the development of various important national economy plans.

In this regard, highlights the construction of the Central Railroad, where they created and assembled about a thousand kilometers of track. In the South line, repairs and maintenance were made to more than 2,200 km of railway lines, especially in the Maceo, Oriente and Nuevitas sections, in Camagey. On the above, in the act for the XX Anniversary of the Army, the then Minister of the FAR, Army General Raul Castro Ruz, assessed: As I said on another occasion, the railways laid by the Youth Labor Army in our country , they cover practically the distance between Havana and Santiago de Cuba by the old central highway. Similarly, the EJT assumed the assembly of 70 km of high voltage power lines between Moa and Baracoa.

The values created in the constructions were greater than 304 million pesos in 250 works, among which are included: educational, economic, scientific centers, tourist facilities, works for the defense and more than 2 242 houses.

Also, the EJT fighters carried out internationalist missions in Syria and Angola. In this last country, besides fulfilling combative missions, they executed important works for economic and social development. In this regard, the construction of two military airports, essential infrastructure for achieving air superiority and protecting the Cuban land offensive, was decisive for the subsequent outcome of the war.

The Turquino plan is another of the important tasks assigned to the Army. Since 1987, more than 160,000 young soldiers have passed through the 150 camps built in the mountains of Pinar del Ro, the Escambray and the Maestra and Cristal mountain ranges of the eastern region. Combatants and civilian workers support the coffee recovery and cultural care of the plantations, which include 1 015 caballerias. After two decades of work, highlights the production of more than four million cans of coffee representing about 172 thousand 414 quintals of gold, that is, eight thousand tons. The presence of the Army has contributed to the development not only economic, but socio-political of our mountains.

In 1991, the country's leadership decided to transfer to the Army the responsibility of managing and integrally managing its productive units. This allowed us to assume the commitment of the administration of the economic-productive process. Thus the Integral Military Farms arise. Likewise, the first companies are received, such as the Ctricos de Jagey Grande and Isla de la Juventud, with their corresponding Industrial Combinations, Fruit Companies of Motembo and Various Crops of Juragu and the Harlem Agro Industrial Sugar Complex. At the same time, commercialization of agricultural productions is ventured.

The production of various crops has contributed a volume of one million 128 thousand tons of food. In the last five years, these productions surpass two million quintals per year, achievement of the six companies and the Integral Military Farm of the Isle of Youth, directed by the Army, under an administration contract with the Ministry of Agriculture.

On the other hand, productive diversification is significant, mainly in livestock production. This important front has contributed 1,865.9 tons of meat, seven million units in eggs and more than seven million liters of milk.

Another important mission that the Army fulfills is commercialization. In 26 agricultural markets, located throughout the country, products and services are sold to the population for more than 300 million pesos annually, at prices that, while still far from those desired, are the lowest in this area.

On January 8, 2002, the country's leadership directed the offensive against the Aedes aegypti mosquito, due to the effects of this vector in the City of Havana. 70 adults are involved in the adulticide treatment and, in the focal engineer, 250; along with other forces mobilized in that battle. 42 days after the offensive started, two anti-vector battalions were created permanently, whose example, requirement, discipline and organization kept the antivectorial activity stable.

At the same time, the institution has become a training school for cadres, revolutionaries and communists. In this sense, the five Integrated Mountain Artistic Groups have increased their work in the rescue and dissemination of the best cultural traditions in the mountain massifs, patriotic, military and internationalist education, as well as in the promotion of culture and recreation. the combatants and inhabitants of the communities, contributing to raise the overall general culture.

This work also has the purpose of achieving the permanence of the young people in the depopulated zones at the end of the Active Military Service, and stopping the exodus from the mountainous massifs, as part of the strategy of the leadership of the Revolution.




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