… the Government “should finance one emigrant per family.”

By Osmel Ramirez Alvarez

A line to enter of the dollar stores in Havana. Photo: EFE

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.

Read more posts by Osmel Ramirez.


Osmel Ramirez

I'm from Mayari, a little village in Holguín. I was born on the same day that the Vietnam War ended on April 30, 1975. A good omen, since I identify myself as a pacifist. I am a biologist but I am passionate about politics, history and political philosophy. Writing about these topics, I got to journalism, precisely here on Havana Times. I consider myself a democratic socialist and my main motivation is to try to be useful to the positive change that Cuba needs.

2 thoughts on “Apartheid in Cuba Induced by Dollarization…

  • Stephen refers to “The whole concept of the Revolution”. That was supposedly to replace an oppressive dictatorship with democracy. Fidel Castro himself, clearly defined the wishes of the Cuban people – as recently illustrated by Donald Trump, he knew the truth, but later denied it. Given power, Castro put those of his fellow revolutionaries who had imagined that he was sincere either on trial, imposing long sentences, or they just disappeared.
    He then betrayed the “concept of the Revolution” by imposing another dictatorship. Sycophants may argue that the Castro dictatorship is less evil than that of Batista, but can scarcely deny that it is totalitarian, non-democratic and repressive.

  • Again, a very realistic, but bleak picture you paint, Osmel. Yet, the President of the country has the gull to go to the United Nations Assembly and say that the pandemic is worse in capitalist countries as opposed to his own a communist, totalitarian state.

    Osmel is absolutely correct. Apartheid does now exist in Cuba. It has too. How can it not? When the government unilaterally changes the monetary exchange system that benefits only the minority in the country while the majority do not have the same benefits, does this not lead to outright inequality – apartheid – as Osmel writes.

    Those fortunate enough to have family or friends outside Cuba who are kind enough to send remittances will survive and be O.K except for waiting in long lines with American dollars in their pockets. Unfortunately, the majority of citizens, like the pensioner, the government worker, the entrepreneur, will all bear the negative economic brunt the government has unleashed.

    Is that the end game for this incompetent government to encourage emigration so that when a Cuban leaves Cuba and is outside the country probably living in a capitalist country, the no longer Cuban can then send money back to family and the Cuban government will reap the rewards because the family needs to spend the money in Americanized dollar stores solely owned by the Cuban government.

    The Cuban government – a minority of communist elites – when faced with untenable economic solutions from the inside of government will revert to such extremes that in the long run will devastate the entire country rather than help.

    Cuban youth, the future of the country, must be simply outraged to see their government out rightly creating two classes of Cuban citizens. The minority with free access to American dollars from abroad and living well and the majority who do not have access living on the margins or certainly in poverty. Is this the Cuba that was taught (propagandized) in school where the heroes of the Revolution fought exactly against inequality – exactly against economic apartheid.

    The whole concept of the Revolution was not apartheid, but the unification of the majority the downtrodden, the majority poor, the marginalized, equality for all Cubans, and the ouster of the minority rich who controlled everything and made life unbearable.

    How does the Cuban government explain the new dollarization apartheid to its people with a straight face. Or, has it just lost its capacity to totally govern ethically and knows the population will not revolt so throw whatever trial balloon that is perceived to work at the economic system, have the Ministry of Propaganda applaud and advertise the theme of belt tightening with any blame to go to foreigners particularly those 90 miles to the north. If it works – great! If it doesn’t, and it hasn’t as 60 plus years have proven, oh well, the population will grin and bear it.

    Writer after writer in HT keep telling us of the hardships, the desperation, the depressive state of the population, yet the same government incompetence, mismanagement, keeps going on perpetually.

    Isn’t that the definition of insanity. Keep doing the same incompetent thing over and over again, in this case over 60 years, hoping for a different optimistic result at the end. It simply insane. It is very sad, indeed.

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