Cubans Suffer Apartheid* in the Government’s USD Stores

By Pedro Pablo Morejon

HAVANA TIMES – My cellphone rings and when I pick it up, I have my little girl’s voice on the other end of the line asking: “Papa, what did the Three Kings bring me?”

I don’t know what to tell her, so in response, as a joke, I say that these kings were astrologers in the Middle East and their star only led them to Bethlehem, that they wouldn’t cross continents and an ocean to bring her presents.

But she laughs and insists that they must have brought her something. The truth is she wants candy, juice, things to eat.

So, before going to see her, I have no other choice but to go into one of those stores with USD prices that have been set up in a currency they call MLC (Freely Convertible Currency), which is nothing more than a virtual currency that the government invented in early 2021 as part of the so-called Currency Reform, which was to fill their coffers again, and is based upon dollars and euros.

They are the only relatively well-stocked stores in the entire country. Although the problem lies in the fact that Cubans aren’t paid in this currency and Cubans who don’t have any relatives living abroad (called scum and worms once upon a time, but have been rebaptized a while ago under the title “community members”), or a source abroad to send them foreign currency, are literally in a tough spot, and have to exchange their miserable pesos into MLC, the market value of which already stands at over 80 Cuban pesos.

Absurd prices in the government’s USD priced .

In the beginning, the Government said that this measure was a necessary, but temporary, evil, and that its purpose was to improve the economy and stock up markets and national currency stores.

However, this hasn’t happened at all and we can deduce two things: That the “reforms process” didn’t manage to eliminate the country’s dual currency, and that the existence of MLC stores isn’t fleeting either, in fact Cubans feel like they have come to stay for good.

The saddest thing is how shameful the prices are. Let’s give you some of the cheaper products you can find in these stores as an example: a can of root beer costs 0.80 MLC, which is the equivalent to 64 pesos; a little bottle of juice costs 2.50 MLC, equivalent to 200 pesos; a can of soda costs 1 MLC, equivalent to 80 pesos; a jar of mayonnaise is 2 MLC, equivalent to 160 pesos, etc.

Not to mention other products. I had to buy a fan recently, one of the “cheaper” ones cost 52 MLC, which is the equivalent to 4160 pesos, which is higher than the average wage of any Cuban worker, which fluctuates around 3000 pesos.

Well, anyway, I went into the store, bought a couple of goodies and even though I was happy when I left that my little girl would be able to enjoy a little candy, I couldn’t stop thinking how unfair this whole situation is and I wonder: what does the future hold for us?

Meanwhile, many are looking for a way to reach the Cuban dream, which is leaving this country. All because we have things like this currency apartheid in stores and many other horrors.


Read more by Pedro Pablo Morejon here.

29 thoughts on “Cubans Suffer Apartheid* in the Government’s USD Stores

  • Olga, England does not have a government, a leader or a military.
    You really need to refer to the U.K.
    Conflicts in the Central and South American countries you mention were not started by Cuba. These countries, in my understanding, have histories of varying shades of corrupt right wing regimes propped up by the USA. That is my understanding.
    The USA has historically backed right wing governments and right wing insurgence in the Americas. Cuba has historically backed so called left wing governments and left wing insurgence.
    It’s not good vs bad, it’s just opposing sides.
    During the Cold War Cuba and the USA were in different camps.
    The USA ruled with an iron fist in its sphere of influence just as Russia did in its sphere of influence. As we all know, Cuba was on the same side as Russia.
    The Cold War is finished now. Conflict and potential conflict still occur but not specifically due to big differences in ideology.
    Cuba is currently a one party state. It has authoritarian rule. As do many countries which the USA kow-tows to. You only have to look at US Presidents making idiots of themselves in Saudi Arabia to see the proof. I’m not really in favour of Authoritarian rule. But there are lots of things in this world that I’m not really in favour of.
    ‘One Party State’ and ‘Authoritarian’ are factual terms.
    ‘Dictatorship’ is not really a factual term in the same way. It’s more of an opinion.
    My opinion would be that the USA does far more dictating in this world than Cuba does.
    But as I say, both are amongst my favourite countries that I have ever had the great good fortune to have lived in during my life.

  • No i don’t agree with Mr Mandela. After the fall of the Portugal!s Portugal facistol government the Forces supported by USA England, starting to fight by the Soviet forces both sides wanted the control of Angola and the forces of UNITA were winning, the Old URSS asked Cuban fir soldiers in exchange for more economic Help nothing to do with Sudáfrica . When the war extended to Zimbabwe the Soviet saw an opportunity for expansion of the war so the idea that Cubans went there as libertators is a Lie So I don’t believe it
    2- the apartheid system was inmoral I’m not justified the USA and England in the support but in the misled of the Cold War paranoia was every where
    3- I haven’t been in Africa.

    So are you all the conflicts that the Cuban dictatorship has created in Latino America specially in places like El Salvador Nicaragua, Colombia with the longest civil war in the Western Hemisphere? Are you the training of terrorustas group like Los Tupamaros and the one Chile ? Do you consider Cuban government a dictatorship?

  • Olga,
    You are clearly an angry lady with a wish to reap some serious big old heap of revenge.
    Nelson Mandela said that for three and a half centuries Africa had been the victim of oppressive invaders until the arrival of the Cubans and that ‘the decisive defeat of the racist army in Cuito Cuanavale was a victory for all Africa’
    Three questions Olga:
    Firstly – Do you agree or disagree with Nelson Mandela’s viewpoints that I quote?
    Secondly – Are you proud of the fact that the USA supported the Apartheid regime of South Africa during their attempt to expand their control in the southern African region?
    Thirdly – Have you ever been to Africa?

  • Nick, Curt , the irony. A man in Africa thanked the King Fidel for his Freedom. meanwhile thousands of Cubans are I’d the bottom of the Florida’s strait Who died in search of freedom, two and half millions Cubans in exile , thousands incarcerated and on. I wonder how Nelson Mandela as human and Black man would feel knowing Cela Cruz couldn’t go to her mother’s funeral because the king of the isla prison denied another Cuban the right to come back because she was a openly critical of the dictatorship?!?!

  • Olga, Cuba’s intervention in Angola led to the end of apartheid in South Africa, a notable accomplishment. The US, especially under the Reagan Administration, was a strong supporter of the repressive apartheid government in South Africa. Nelson Mandela, who was a political prisoner for over 20 years, thanked Fidel Castro for helping free him. Mandela was banned from visiting Miami after that comment. Cuban repression happens on both sides of the Florida Straits.

  • Olga, you are now referring to historical events not the present as you seemed to be previously.
    You are correct. I am white. What’s my skin colour got to do with anything?
    Are you aware of what Nelson Mandela said about Cuba’s intervention in Southern Africa. Are you aware that the USA was propping up the Apartheid Government of South Africa?
    Do you think you are more of an expert on Africa than Nelson Mandela was?
    Have you ever been to Africa?

  • Nick here is your evidence of Cuban mercenaries and the many Cuban interventions all over the world. What will you say now to excuse how a country as poor as Cuba sent thousands of soldiers to conquer peoples just like a colonial power? There are thousands of Cubans buried all over the world that fought because Castro wanted to show off to the Soviets. You defend a regime that 90% of its people deplore – and you are a white tourist trying to teach us about our Cuba where all of us have African blood. The links are attached.

  • Circles – I don’t have a link. I saw that somewhere maybe a month ago, and I thought it was interesting and relevant to freqent comments on HT, so I cut and pasted it. I didn’t think cutting and pasting was favored in the comments section, so it just sat ther a while. I remember it was from a completely centrist, mainstream source though, Time or Newsweek. The article was about Russia. Another paragraph that preceeded what I copied stated as follows: “While no evidence has emerged of a wider effort by Putin or his administration to reestablish the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics that existed for nearly 70 years from 1921 to 1991, Russians living three decades after its collapse have expressed increasing levels of support for the state-run political and economic policies of the fallen superpower.”

  • Anti Imperialist,
    It’s clearly escaped your notice that I have made many criticisms on this forum regarding the Cuban Government.
    The lack of incentives in agricultural production, the refusal to allow peaceful protest, the reluctance to marketise the economy etc.
    I would challenge you to find where I have had a swipe at people in Cuba.
    I have met people in Cuba who take their thirty pieces of silver from the USA with a remit to cause unrest but that’s up to them. It’s one of the options that life has presented.
    I don’t criticise people because they criticise Cuban governance. Such criticism is valid.
    I criticise their refusal to accept the sordid role that the USA has played. There are complaints from a very comfortable part of the world about how bad things are in Cuba but hypocritical support for U.S. policies to make things in Cuba even worse.
    There is a clear sycophancy toward trump and his destruction of President Obama’s positive and forward looking policies.
    Representatives of the whole of the rest of the world condemn the embargo and its restrictions.
    I think the good folk of the USA should be able to go where they want and spend their money on what they want. That’s just normal.
    Old Benjamin Franklin and his crew would be spinning in their graves.
    The USA and Cuba are two of my favourite countries in the world. But as I’ve mentioned, they are both instances of revolutions which have had mixed results so far.
    I hope for improvements in both these countries.
    I thoroughly recommend a booster injection of objectivity for some of the commentators who contribute here.

  • Dan could you please provide the link so readers can assess the poll’s validity.

  • Cury if you consider doing well a capitalist markets with violations of humans rights. Vietnam is for you.

  • Olga- I saw this in Newsweek or Time a few weeks ago, and I saved it for you, as you frequently opine that almost everybody in their right mind hates Socialism, particularly those that have had the experience of Capitalism. Well here it is, right from the professional polsters -” A poll published in September by the independent Levada Center demonstrated that some 49% of respondents said they “would prefer the Soviet political system,” by far the most of any option, and “the highest number since the early 2000s.” Only 18% chose the current political system, while just 16% favored “the Western model of democracy.”
    The Soviet economic system was even more popular, with 62% preferring policies of “state planning and distribution,” marking a record high that is the “maximum in the entire history of observations.” Some 24% opted for “a system based on private property and market relations.”

  • Nick this is one more example of your false “objectivity” which I call fence-sitting.

    You say: “I don’t have a problem with criticisms of Cuban governance, but it’s a real shame to witness some of those who dwell in the USA refusing to accept any culpability on their side of the Florida Straits.”

    Then as usual you criticize those who criticize the policies of the Cuban government because they live in the US or your beloved UK. You also swipe at Cubans in Cuba.

    Nick for the umpteenth time what are your “objective” criticisms of the Communist Party governance in Cuba? If you don’t really have them feel free to say so.

    I hear you that the US is the boogie man…. I don’t support their foreign policy and the embargo either. Try and convince the Republicans to lift the embargo. People like Marc Rubio and Ted Cruz and Bob Mendendez. I personally don’t think it’s worth even trying with them.

    So what’s left is what can the Cuban government do to be more successful despite the embargo? Or do you feel they are doing the best they can in year 63 of their same government? Hell they are producing 20 to 30% of their own food. Isn’t that great?

  • Curt,
    It is most unfortunate that the commentators you mention are so entirely one-sided. They wish to see the problems in Cuba turned up to the max. I don’t have a problem with criticisms of Cuban governance, but it’s a real shame to witness some of those who dwell in the USA refusing to accept any culpability on their side of the Florida Straits.
    It’s a shame to see those who live in relative comfort supporting policies which are specifically aimed at increasing the problems for those far less well off than themselves.
    They don’t seem to like optimism. The blame game is the only game in town for some of these trump apologists. Or would trump sycophants be more suitable given Mr P’s regular usage of this type of slur??
    And then there’s Anti-Imperialist’s desperation to jump on board the no-wheeled bandwagon.
    Fence sitting??
    It’s a shame when objectivity is criticised by those who are lacking in it.

  • Olga, I am not an advocate for the Cuban government , but I am strongly against US policy towards Cuba. I will always have that opinion and have repugnance against people who support an embargo which has never worked and unnecessary cause suffering among the Cuban people.

  • Olga what about Vietnam, which is thriving quite well, despite considering itself a communist country.

  • Curt, I really care about Cubans and the welfare and I wish for Cubans what you and I enjoying in the free world. If I’m insane for wishing the end of a horrible dictatorship I wonder if you and Nick and others that go to Cuba to feel important between mojitos and dated utopian slogans are sadists. I still have relatives in Cuba when they ask for money I told them I can’t because I have what I need in a free Democratic society but I have to work hard everyday for it, they should fight for freedom because freedom is priceless. Communism is only imposed by repression. It doesn’t work. And if you don’t believe me ask a German from East Berlin if they would go back to communism or why North Koreane escape to the south and not the other way around .

  • Nick, people like Moses and Olga don’t want the Cuban people to exceed or show the optimism that Cubans had in 2016, after Obama normalized relations. They want the Cubans to suffer because they still think that they will overthrow the Cuban government. The irrational and extremely ignorant thoughts go all the way back to the Eisenhower Administration. As I have stated here many times, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again without achieving the desired results.

  • Moses said: “It never ceases to amaze me how blind Castro sycophants are to the realities in Cuba. Real Cubans are suffering in Cuba and their suffering has nothing to do with the US embargo.” SPOT ON

    Nick seems offended from his fence-sitting perch. He blames both the US and the Cuban government for the calamity faced by most Cubans. However, when asked he refuses to say why the Cuban government is at fault, always detouring to the US embargo which neither he nor Moses nor I could lift even if we wanted to.

    He might avoid criticizing the policies of the Cuban government afraid they won’t let him in the next time he goes on vacation.

  • The usual lame slurs from Mr Patterson.
    Lives in a glass house.
    Throws stones.

  • It never ceases to amaze me how blind Castro sycophants are to the realities in Cuba. Real Cubans are suffering in Cuba and their suffering has nothing to do with the US embargo.

  • Olga, I would be against U.S. taxpayers money being used to fund disruption in Cuba.
    The USA needs to sort out it’s own sadly failing attempt at democracy and address the disruption at home rather than carrying on with this dirty and slippery funding of disruption abroad.
    And I am not aware of any Cuban mercenaries in Angola. Name me one single Cuban mercenary who is in Angola?
    Whereabouts in Angola are these mythical Cuban mercenaries????
    You aren’t making any sense.
    I would ask you these simple questions Olga:
    Do you think that you know more about Africa than Nelson Mandela did?
    Olga, have you ever even been to Africa??

  • Nick, so you did not respond. Are you in favor of the Cuban opposition getting money from the USA government? And do you support the Cuban government sending mercenaries to Angola? Simple. Nick. Come on.

  • And Olga…..
    You have very different opinion regarding Cuba’s role in Southern Africa in comparison to the opinion of Nelson Mandela.
    That’s coz Nelson Mandela was African.
    You ain’t.

  • Olga,
    You make your usual presumptions about my viewpoints.
    The point I am making is that the article includes an ill advised and naive usage of the word ‘apartheid’.
    Whatever colour your skin is Olga, you complain about how bad things are in Cuba from your relative comfort over in the USA, but you support U.S. policies which are specifically designed to make problems in Cuba even worse.
    Being black is no excuse for wishing to turn up to the max the the problems for Cubans, both black and white.
    It is your overwhelming desire to see maximum problems for people in Cuba. This seems to be your fantasy.
    I would like to see the current resident of the White House re-introduce the policies of President Obama. His policies saw an distinct improvement and an optimism in Cuba.
    In Cuba people were hopeful of things getting better. Things most definitely started to get better. Small businesses started to thrive given the increased tourism from the USA. Entrepreneurship was looking more promising than it ever had since the first time I went to Cuba in the mid nineties.
    I wish to see things get better for people in Cuba.
    Olga, you seem to support policies which are designed to make things worse for people in Cuba.
    That’s the difference between us Olga. It’s a big difference. I want improvements. You just want some kinda revenge.
    Nothing to do with skin colour.

    And Olga…..
    You have very different opinion regarding Cuba’s role in Southern Africa in comparison to the opinion of Nelson Mandela.
    That’s coz Nelson Mandela was African.
    You ain’t.

  • Hum! So Nick is against USA sending money to the opposition in Cuba despite the government won’t hire anyone openly against the government and the private business won’t hire them for fear to lose the license. But Nick is all for Cuban dictatorship sending mercenaries in service of the old URSS to fight in Angola and the rest of Africa as long as if for a cause that Nick likes.

    I was 100% against the apartheid let me make that clear but the king Castro was getting paid a lot money for sending soldiers to Africa by the Soviet Union. By the way I’m Black Nick.

  • Hi Joel

    If you are interested in helping the people here, bring medications, mainly to combat scabies, covid 19, skin fungus, for pain, etc.

  • In my opinion this is a very sorry and very poor usage of the term ‘apartheid’.
    Especially coming from a white man.
    A white man should use this term wisely.
    The Cuban Revolution has had very mixed outcomes. The Revolution occurred in 1959. This was during the era of apartheid in the more southern parts of the USA.
    We are talking about an era wherein, for example, the wonderful and legendary Sammy Davis Jr. could do a gig in a U.S. hotel but couldn’t stay the night in that same hotel due to his skin colour which was deemed inferior in that part of the USA in that era.
    This was the apartheid era in the USA. That stinking and self-degrading situation in the USA has gradually improved over the years. However it’s still not perfect as can be evidenced by the repeated murder of black people by white cops.
    We also need to bear in mind the apartheid era in South Africa. This was an era in which the vast majority of the indigenous, non-white population were controlled by a tiny minority of immigrant whites who were the self appointed superior race.
    I know many very decent and proud Cubans who went to Southern Africa to fight against that regime which now, thankfully, no longer exists.
    To its very last dying embers, the racist regime in South Africa was opposed by Cuba but supported by U.S. and U.K. regimes trying to cling on to the past and cling on to their percentages.
    Racism was supposedly discontinued in Cuba from 1959 onwards.
    But we all know that there are many examples which show that this discontinuance has not entirely occurred.
    In Cuba in 2022 it is advantageous to be white rather than non-white.
    So here we have a white Cuban man, who knows only too well that his skin colour still gives him an unfair advantage in modern day Cuba, utilising the term ‘apartheid’.

  • Hi Pedro,

    I’m planning a trip to your beautiful country in February. This will be my 4th such trip. On previous trips, when I venture off the resort I usually bring with me some tooth brushes, toothpaste, crayons and other small trinkets for handing out to people.

    Is there a better way that I can help provide some help to the local people that I meet in the streets? Are there some better items that I can hand out?

    I know what I do is not a lot in the grand scheme of things but I just want to help where I can.

    Looking forward to your response.

    Sincerely yours,


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