By Pedro Pablo Morejon
HAVANA TIMES – I get pissed off every time I go into one of these stores where products are sold in dollars with cards in MLC (freely convertible currency). Products you can barely find in any other store. Sold in a currency that Cuban workers don’t receive their wages in.
I came out of one of these stores with a big tub of yogurt for 15 MLC (just over 15 USD), over 1500 Cuban pesos in exchange, when an old man asked me a question and the following conversation, more or less, ensued:
“Where did you buy it?”
“At the Panamericana store.”
“Ah, they’re selling it to the people.”
“You mean to those who have dollars sent by their families living abroad because many Cubans can’t afford to do this unless they make great sacrifices from time to time and buy MLC for 100 pesos on the street.”
“That’s true, young man, and it shouldn’t be like that. Look, I’ve spent my entire life working for nothing and if it wasn’t for my son living abroad, I’d have starved to death with my pension…”
We bid each other farewell soon after.
President Biden recently announced a series of measures which, according to him, were to help the Cuban people, but I’m guessing that it was for the selfish reason to stop Cuban immigrants from entering the US via the Mexico border.
The measures that really struck me were the ones that support independent Cuban entrepreneurs with access to technology with the internet, training and businesses, something that really amazes me if we bear in mind the fact the regime controls all private enterprise on the island, and that only the ones that are allowed to flourish do, while the rest of business owners don’t get anywhere.
He also wants to make sure that remittances reach the Cuban people more freely and don’t fill the pockets of those who commit human rights violations (in clear reference to the Government), by removing the 1000 USD per trimester limit that existed during the Trump Administration. Amazing.
I have no idea how they will do this without filling the pockets of those who “commit human rights violations”, when this money is going to end up in MLC stores at the end of the day, which belong to these violators.
All of this is supposedly to help the Cuban people, in Biden’s opinion, but it’s nothing more than another politicking tactic, the kind that have been adopted by successive US governments and have nothing to do with the Cuban people’s wellbeing.
The way I see things, the social and economic situation in Cuba will continue in a cycle of crisis. But of course, some people will be able to buy in USD stores and others won’t be able to.
Many people will continue to choose to escape this country and leave for lands with better opportunities, who will then in turn help their loved ones that stay in Cuba. A very profitable business for those in power, who will continue to receive important foreign currency injections.
They’ve always made a living by living off others, whether it was the now extinct Soviet Union, Venezuela, or the Cuban diaspora community.
Whoever they could feed off.
They owe God knows how many people and don’t pay back their debts.
What about the Cuban people? Well, they console themselves with top-up cards, a parcel here or there, in short, the crumbs the dollars their relatives give them. Living thanks to FE (faith) and not exactly in God.
The present of an enslaved people is very sad, which is unable to make progress on its own and is forced to live like a mere parasite.
Worse yet is the situation of those without FE, that is to say, familiares en el extranjero (family living abroad).