Union leader Xiomara Mercantete

Xiomara Mercantete Rodríguez is easy to approach. She is preceded by a reputation she has built up, right down to her shoes, as a competent psychologist, a woman with a solid discourse, grounded in the realities of her daily life and in a profession that she confesses to be a shield and an abbreviation every day of her life.

It is enough to listen to her defending air quality to get an idea that her five decades of experience are well fitted into her skin. She crusades against smoking just as much as she fills herself with simple arguments to explain to children why cigarettes detract from, rather than add to, the environment.

She does not only know about smoking cessation, addictions, or non-chronic diseases. The promoter, psychologist, and guru, in many cases, is an academy of advice, on techniques to promote health and to make everyone who crosses her path fall in love with her projects.

Xiomara has a strong voice, but only to channel, from the Provincial Centre of Hygiene, Epidemiology and Microbiology of this city, a fight for health, for the best habits, for modern and coherent behaviors, because the new learns from experience and translates into the quality of life, in a sincerely better world?

Las Tunas Provincial Center for Hygiene and Microbiology.


The microphones of 26 are turned on this time to talk to Xiomara, but not specifically about her specialty or about the work that takes up more than 24 hours a day and motivates her with the same intensity. We wanted to find out more about her trade union work and the minutes turned into hours.

She has 42 years of experience as a trade union leader and although she started in the education sector back in 1981, she currently works as secretary of the trade union bureau of the Provincial Centre for Hygiene, Epidemiology and Microbiology, and this is also one of her pleasures.

It is enough to look at her to know that she coherently brings together more than 200 workers, located in three areas: molecular biology laboratories, microbiology laboratories, chemistry laboratories, the entire vector area, and more.

"I'm not just saying that, for me, it has always been a satisfaction to represent the workers and to do it to the full. I think the movement also teaches you how to take care of them, but you also have a great commitment and that is to study, learn, and know the laws that govern to defend the workers at any time."

Xiomara is no stranger to difficult times, marked by fluctuations in personnel, shortages of material and human resources, and even demotivation, but in the face of this reality, she assures us that we must be more sincere and transparent, and above all, accompany them.

A new law for the future of public health in the country came into force in 2023, which aims to develop the provisions of the Constitution of the Republic of 2019 and to reinforce the responsibilities of the State in this important sector. The promoter has set her sights on the challenges.

"This is a very comprehensive law, we are also engaged in the decree-law on new forms of employment such as teleworking, and these are necessary issues. We want them to bear fruit in favor of workers who need to improve their living and working conditions."

"One of the novelties that these regulations bring is the possibility of moonlighting among our workers, who have the possibility of being employed in another center after their working day and this will also allow that person an income from the point of view of salary to improve their economy and improve the care of their family, which is so necessary nowadays."

She tells us with vehemence that due to his outstanding trade union work, he participated on behalf of the province in the Second National Conference of Health Workers, which was held last December in Havana, and where he presented all the proposals of his workers, which are not a local solution but require a response from the highest authorities of the sector in the country.

"Currently at the Provincial Hygiene Center we are working very hard from an inter-sectoral point of view, I think that today our Achilles heel and the fundamental core is the joint work that we have to achieve. The support of the community and society in general is important, and the sectors also work and reinforce, in their way, our Ministry of Public Health."

What should a trade union leader be lacking today during so many shortages of medical supplies?

"The first word that came to my mind was 'dedication', we have to give ourselves to each of the tasks, to these workers and let them know that they have the trade union movement, that we are not an immovable entity, that they can count on us in any situation, doubt or dissatisfaction. If we do not defend that strength, we do not honor the union."

"The main thing is that the union sits in a workplace, that it is listened to and leads. And it is not that we are accompanying the administration but that we are the factors of the center, union, PCC, administration, and youth, all united as a spearhead seeking better conditions and scenarios for their own."

"I like to talk to my colleagues about sensitivity, solidarity, feeling other people's pain, and also their joy. A collective is in many ways a family to be honored, with the best of ourselves. That is also what the union is: a family."