Cuba: The Market and the Nurse

By Fernando Ravsberg

Photo: Caridad

HAVANA TIMES — The official Granma newspaper published a “moving” note on the driver of a horse drawn cart charging a nurse five pesos to bring her to her home. “This is supply and demand, Miss, take it or leave it, and if don’t like it you’ll have to get down,” said the “heartless” self-employed driver.

The Communist Party newspaper says: “used to the norms and values generated by the revolution for so many years, most Cubans are reluctant to live with such behavior.” Could they be talking about the price of milk or oil in hard currency State at stores?

Is the cart driver heartless for charging five pesos when he must pay the forever “in solidarity” government 60 pesos for a liter of cooking oil? Or would the driver get a discount from the State stores if he charges a lower fare?

If the problem is high prices, it’s the government itself that would have to be the first to lower them since it imposes a 240% mark-up on all staple products it sells in hard currency, out of the reach of this poor nurse.

However, there is another deeper problem. How is it possible that a worker from the health sector, which is what provides the most revenue to the nation’s economy – some 8 billion USD a year-, doesn’t earn enough money to pay the equivalent of a $0.20 USD fare on a horse cart.

Granma continues with the habit of blaming all problems on the self-employed, It appears that the Party organ is having trouble understanding that the government of Raul Castro considers them part of the national economy, not as a necessary evil but as an essential part of the design of the future model.

2 thoughts on “Cuba: The Market and the Nurse

  • For the official organ of the Communist Party of Cuba to speak of the driver of a horse drawn cart as being ‘heartless” for charging 5 pesos to ride in his cart is ridiculous coming from a regime that has been in need of a prolonged period of cardiac rehabilitation for fifty six years.

  • The Castros have created so many artificial barriers to free market enterprise that it is disingenuous to accuse “cuentapropistas” of being heartless. The private businesses have no wholesale market, high taxes, and arbitrary limits on marketing and promotion. Given the unnecessary obstacles they face, it should surprise no one that they are unable to be more price flexible.

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