Cuba, the Way I See Things Right Now

By Jorge Milanes

Out in front of a pharmacy in Villa Clara, Cuba

HAVANA TIMES – An honest, sincere person who does their work properly so they can “supposedly” contribute to the household with their worker’s wages, risks losing their self-confidence and life. And if married, he/she can even end up losing their spouse and children… the entire family, in short. 

On the one hand, there are the wages which, in spite of a recent pay hike in the public sector, are not enough to cover basic needs; and, on the other, there are shortages in markets and state-run stores. Then you have private businesses and resellers, who don’t produce anything, but they buy up goods in large quantities at these stores and markets, and then resell them for a price that only a minority can afford.

Workers that have to support their families have had to deal with similar situations for decades now. The end of this long crisis is nowhere in sight and it’s been baptized and rebaptized by the government over the years. The current crisis has been given the name “temporary situation” and it is justified, as always, as the result of the stricter economic and commercial blockade that the US government has imposed on our country.

And how can we reach a certain stability in a country where the population ages more and more every year and many families have to take on the care of these older relatives? It pains me to say it, but this care becomes another problem, as it limits the productive work of active people, and also implies further expenses in dietary requirements and medicine. 

Medicines are in shortage, and when they do arrive in pharmacies, speculators snatch them up in large quantities, and it makes the struggle to look after our elderly a real battle because you can spend all day in a line and still not get hold of what you need. Subsidized medicines aren’t that cheap in Cuba anyway. I have a friend whose father spends 100 pesos a month approximately on medicine, when he can buy them of course.

My friend, honest, sincere and hard-working, who has also just come out of a divorce because of the economic hardship that weighed on his relationship. However, there are those who say: “Cuba is one of the best welfare states in the world”!?