By Pedro Pablo Morejon
Rumors going viral on social media are taken as true by many Cubans.
HAVANA TIMES – First a voice clip went viral in Whatsapp and Telegram groups. An alleged source with access to the highest political ranks, gives insight into the currency reunification process. Also “leaked” was a price list of basic essentials that you can get via the ration’s booklet. The prices had shot up, as well as another pay rise mentioned.
The rumor said that as of October 1st, the Convertible Cuban Peso (CUC) will begin to be cut out of circulation. The exchange rate would be 1 CUC for 20 pesos (CUP), currently its 24 x 1. This would take place gradually over six months so that people can get rid of this currency. The “news” led to mass hysteria.
I have seen ATMs unable to keep up, in Pinar del Rio city at least. Lines in front of banks are super long. The same thing is happening outside the two Bureau d’Change branches (CADECA) here.
I spent the entire morning of September 11th at a CADECA to get rid of the CUCs I had left. I was following the age-old piece of popular wisdom that says: “there’s no smoke without fire.”
All of this, in addition to prices and wages, led to a wave of concern among the Cuban people.
As you would expect, it’s disturbing that a family would have to invest more than 1000 pesos in basics, which aren’t enough to feed them for 10 days.
The government says the rumors are false
The government says rumors are false
Setting the minimum wage at 1250 pesos (currently 400), means that inflation will only get worse. It is already chronic and almost nobody follows it anymore. However, your ordinary Cuban’s logic, who has had to endure years of so many shortages, doesn’t necessarily have to coincide with the logic of those who govern the country from their comfortable positions.
After remaining silent in the beginning, the government has now decided to finally come out and deny these rumors.
On September 10th, party-line newspaper Cubadebate published a statement issued by Cuba’s Central Bank saying: “this information isn’t true.” They assured, “when a decision is made, it will be announced via official channels, in a timely manner.”
On September 14th, this website published another article with similar explanations.
However, nothing was clarified in regard to pay rises and prices of the basic foods going up, as a result.
Whether these rumors are true or not, between distrust, the COVID-19 pandemic, the economy in a permanent state of crisis and expectations when the future looms grey on the horizon, the Cuban people are experiencing extremely tense and uncertain times.