Cubans Living on $20 a Month: An Unsubstantiated Rumor

Yanelys Nuñez Leyva

Ricardo Alarcon. Photo:

HAVANA TIMES, Feb 28 — Ricardo Alarcon, president of Cuba’s National Assembly of Popular Power, in a televised excerpt from the recent National Party Conference gave us new data on the need for greater freedom of information.

To substantiate his claims, he used an example very close to the daily problems of Cubans: their monthly income.

In his view, the idea that the average Cuban survives on 20 CUCs (a little more than $20 USD) a month is too broad. He says that some people, including international journalists — evidently counter-revolutionaries — repeat this false situation over and over again.

As proof of that mistake, according to Alarcon, one can find the true real statistics on the national economy on a CIA website, of all places.

As the point of his discussion was the urgent need for information by people, the issue of the average wage was left to the side.

Still, it would have been interesting to see how his comments on that point would have ended, because most people I know work for less than 20 CUCs a month.

The “average” Cuban engages in all kinds of surreptitious maneuvers to survive over those 30 days.

The unlicensed sale of candy, juice, clothing, bags, shoes, or anything else, is one of the extra actions that many people involve themselves in, not to mention those who risk committing unlawful acts within their workplaces.

Ricardo Alarcon — the man who once had the audacity to say that if everyone had the right to travel abroad, the skies would be threatened by over congestion — returns to delight us with his wise and stunning judgments about life in our country.

In his opinion, the figure 20 CUC is in itself laughable, it’s no more than pure rumor based on disinformation campaigns sponsored by the enemy.

People do need access to information – this is a fact.

But they also need a major change in their way of life.


One thought on “Cubans Living on $20 a Month: An Unsubstantiated Rumor

  • A great deal of confusion has developed in the socialist movement regarding worker take-home pay, Yanelys, from the Marxian theory of economics. Marx and Engels conveyed the idea that all, or almost all of the appropriation of surplus-value generated by workers is taken by capitalist enterprise owners. What supposedly is left to the poor worker is a bare subsistence take-home paycheck. This idea flourished before any revolutionary socialist state had taken power, and little harm was done by it.

    When the Soviet state functioned however this idea caused lots of trouble. If the capitalist owners had been expropriated in favor of state ownership of the instruments of production, then the surplus values would now go into state coffers, not into the workers take-home paychecks. The state bureaucracy therefore acquired control of this mass of surplus values, and were obligated to disburse it more justly than it had been disbursed under capitalism.

    The way this was promulgated was not to increase the workers’ pay, but to subsidize prices at the point of consumption. This made perfect sense to the bureaucracy because there was no small service bourgeoisie at the community or consumption level, and so the workers, in the minds of the bureaucracy did not need more take-home pay with which to purchase non-existent small bourgeois provided goods and services.

    What apparently occurred over time, in the Soviet Union and other Marxian states like Cuba was that the bureaucracy, being overlords of the massive pot of surplus values, began to dip their fingers into the pot, by all sorts of means, especially outright corruption.

    Marxian political and economic theory, by misunderstanding the need of socialism as an alliance of the proletariat and the small bourgeoisie, and the need for primary ownership of the instruments of production being directly in the hands of all the productive people in the economy, laid the basis for the pitifully low wages and salaries of working people under socialist state power.

    You say that what is needed in Cuba, Yanelys, is “a major change in their way of life.” If the PCC could wake up, reinstate private productive property rights in order to both make it possible for workers to own most industry and commerce directly and cooperatively, and the small bourgeoisie to own the service and some other sectors–with the state taking partial, silent co-ownership of significant industry and commerce–that major change would take place and the socialist movement worldwide would have a great rebirth.

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