Another Year of Full Employment in Cuba By Raul Estrada Zamora - AIN Special Service - As was expected, Cuba concluded 2005 with less than two percent unemployment, placing the island among the few countries in the world which -according to the norms established by the World Labor Organization- guarantees full employment to the economically active population. Cuba reached this objective for the first time in 2004 after a achieving a sustainable reduction in the unemployment rate, which had reached as high 8.3 percent in 1995. That economic predicament was due to the collapse of the socialist community and Washington's blockade against the island. Without applying any neo-liberal recipes so common in Latin America, the Cuban government adopted a range of measures to pull the nation out of crisis; the island resisted and continued its development. Six years ago Cuba began what is called the "Battle of Ideas," which is a series of close to 200 programs aimed at offering each person significant educational, cultural and working opportunities. The training of some 28,000 social workers is one of the initiatives that has had a major impact in reducing unemployment. These young professionals are charged principally with solving problems of the unemployed and seeing that they are productively incorporated into society. Aiming to improve the education system and creating better access to instruction, many young people have begun pursing careers in education. One of the most revolutionary programs in terms of its concept and reach is the "Integral Upgrading Course" for young people. This is directed at people from 18 to 30 years of age who, for whatever reason, are not involved in study or work. This program offers a path to study for the employed and is already benefiting over 170,000 people at all educational levels, including those in higher education. Other group of Cubans formerly linked to the sugar industry is also being paid so as to allow them to increase their educational levels. They are part of the 100,000 members of Operation Alvaro Reynoso, which was created after sugar industry was restructured to make that sector more efficient. The Cuban people also have important occupational options in urban agriculture, computer clubs and electronics, youth video clubs, television and video parlors and other programs which serve primarily youth and women. There is a strong youth and female presence in sectors such as scientific research, education and health, as demonstrated by the fact that women make up 66 percent of the professionals and technicians on the island. Likewise, the handicapped receive special attention. Without exception, all those of working age and who are willing to work are guaranteed a job in either normal work places, in one of the 143 special workshops created across the island, or in social installations where they receive employment training. As the unemployment rate decreases, Cuba has increased its funds for social security and assistance; these will increase to 3.5 billion pesos in 2006 - an increase of 20 percent compared to 2005. Despite Washington's blockade against Cuba, the island contrasts with the rest of Latin America - a region with an 11 percent unemployment rate, where 55 and 65 percent of the workers lack a social security system, and where we find 25 million children forced to work while 19.5 million adults are without a job. http://www.periodico26.cu/english/features/employment122905.htm Last I checked, unemployment in Cuba was at 1,9 percent. But doesn't "full employment" mean zero unemployment..? What is the nature of those 1,9 percent who are not employed?