… the Government “should finance one emigrant per family.”
By Osmel Ramirez Alvarez
HAVANA TIMES – The government’s strategy to dollarize part of Cuba’s retail market is another clear sign of its dependence on emigration. It calls many of these same emigrants “worms” and “counter-revolutionaries.” Furthermore, it bans them from entering the island whenever they dare to criticize the system.
Stocking new dollar stores with basic items gone missing in the normal Cuban retail network, is unfair and hypocritical. People looking on and those directly affected are asking the same questions for weeks now:
What can the Cubans do without someone to send them remittances from abroad or a legal income in foreign currency? Does the State, a State that plans everything, have a plan to resolve these differences? How will they balance out this shift consciously (or unconsciously) created in our society?
The Government doesn’t publish official data about the total amount of cash remittances that enter the country. According to different analysts, the sum was somewhere between 1.5 and 3.6 billion USD between 2012-2016.
A survey carried out by the Population Studies Center at Cuba’s Office of Statistics in 2016, revealed that 77% of emigrants send some form of aid to their families and friends on this Caribbean island, constantly or sporadically.
This contribution reached approximately 32% of Cubans on the island at the time. It came mostly in the form of medicines or money, according to a report by the IPS news agency. However, other recent estimates consider they might benefit a greater percentage of families.
There might be some variation in the figures, but the number of Cubans who receive dollars from abroad will continue to be just a part of the population, and not the majority. What happens to the households that survive without remittances and without income in foreign currency? This, in a country that seems to be better designed for those who do.
Well, they have chronic shortages, huge lines and the loss of hours crucial for productivity. They also must deal with more abusive prices. If they want something that is only available in dollars, then they need to buy these dollars off somebody. And, on the street, they will have to pay a rate that is already devalued 50%. The State does not sell dollars at any price.
At this point, the Government should take off its mask and openly accept the fact that it can’t live without sucking its emigrants dry and openly support people leaving. Anyway, it has promoted emigration for decades now. Doing so by sinking the futures of families in economic misery and pressuring those who dissent to leave.
Amidst so much pragmatism, maybe a bureaucrat in some State office somewhere has an outlandish idea. Financing the emigration of one member of families that don’t have access to dollars. The families behind the “barbed fence of this economic apartheid”, are also those looking in the windows of dollar stores. Let them choose the youngest, healthiest and most kind-hearted member of the family. So that once they are abroad, they don’t get sick, nor forget those they left behind.
Cuba, a country that was once rich and a recipient of immigrants, is at a critical crossroad. The Government has already devalued a Cuban’s work and their dignity. It has reduced the Cuban people to a “social welfare case”. People who rely on public charity or gifts from their loved ones who had the courage to escape on time.
Going down this road, it has converted the island into a mirror of its citizens. A parasite of its workers, emigrants and international allies. They still have the cheek to carry on calling this a “revolution” and refuse to “change everything that needs changing.” In the meantime, they always stunt any chance of us Cubans getting ahead off of our own work and businesses.