Lingering Debt from Cuba’s Energy Revolution

Osmel Almaguer

HAVANA TIMES, Dec 31 — After several years of Cuba’s great “energy revolution,” the debts shouldered by the Cuban people to the government for the purchase the energy-efficient appliances are beginning to take their toll.

I remember that the process took place amidst the usual chaotic, campaign-style atmosphere. Thousands of young social workers were mobilized, as the media spun its constant coverage sublimating the action into a kind of “socialist providence.”

The almost mandatory change was one’s old Soviet or American refrigerator for a new Chinese one, with the old ones valued at zero pesos.

As for me, I got one of the new refrigerators — which fortunately hasn’t broken down yet — for which I’ve paid about 1,000 pesos ($45 dollars) so far.

But what happened was that about two years ago I lost my job in the cut backs that were being made.  Ever since then I haven’t been motivated to find some other government job, ones which I like to call “300 peso-ers” (paying 300 pesos a month, or $12 USD).

My outstanding balance on my fridge is nearly five thousand pesos, which normally would have been deducted from my pay check over ten years of work.

So a few days ago, I received a notice in which they threatened to take my home if I didn’t show up to pay what I owed within 72 hours.

My cousin, who used to work at the bank branch where I go, said that they usually do that to frighten debtors.

Fortunately, soon after I received some money for some work I’d been doing on the side, which was enough to pay off my outstanding debt.

But what’s going to happen to those people who can’t pay?

3 thoughts on “Lingering Debt from Cuba’s Energy Revolution

  • I bought a Maytag frig twenty years ago, and it’s still running.

    On the other hand, I bought two Frigadaire refrigerators over twenty-five years ago. The compressor busted on one just before the warranty ran out, and on the other one just after the warranty ran out.

    All of the appliances manufactured in the US are now of dubious quality. So far as I know, they are designed to last just past the expiration of their warranties. This is standard degradation of quality under capitalism, as bureaucrats running the corporations cut quality in order to reap short term profits and get their bonuses. What matters is quarterly profits for absentee investors, not protection of the reputation of the company brand name.

    I don’t know what has happened to Maytag’s quality, but I do know that they moved their production facility out of Newton, Iowa, and opened a new one in Ohio, a non-union state. This devastated the Newton community. I wonder if there is any quality left in the Maytag brand?

  • What happens if the appliance dies before it is fully paid for? Many “modern” appliances do not last more than 10 years, in my experience!

  • Would they really have evicted you if you hadn’t paid? Are evictions happening now? If so, is anyone protesting?

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