Cuba’s Elderly Are Struggling

HAVANA TIMES – Many of Cuba’s retirees are struggling, especially those who have to live off pensions equaling 8–12 USD a month and have no money coming from family abroad. Carlos brings us an illustration of this precarious situation for people who often gave 40 or 50 years of their life to work for government businesses or institutions.

Illustration by Carlos
After nearly a year of saving, I think that this month I’ll have enough. What! are you going on vacation to one of the Cays? NOOOO! It’s for a pair of shoes. Illustration by Carlos

7 thoughts on “Cuba’s Elderly Are Struggling

  • My mother-in-law is one of those ‘fortunates’ to receive 200 pesos per month. The regime knowing that ‘la familia’ is the core of Cuban society and that the younger generations are dependent upon the oldest generation for accommodation, are content to depend upon la familia to aid the old from their meagre earnings of $20.68 per month and that is how they survive.
    Carlos has captured the essence of the reality of life in Cuba for the old.
    Yet, there are those who subscribe to the pages of Havana Times who support the Castro family communist regime and its oppression of the people of Cuba, Such people basking in the comfort of the capitalist world, have no conscience and know no shame!

    Reply
    • After reading the final sentence, “Carlos brings us an illustration of this precarious situation for people who often gave 40 or 50 years of their life to work for government businesses or institutions,” I was reminded of Boxer, the cart horse, in George Orwell’s timeless classic, Animal Farm. His naiveté is seen throughout the novel. His two mottoes are “I will work harder” and “Napoleon is always right.” What happens to Boxer, who has worked tirelessly all his life for the system until he is of no use to
      the pigs? He is sent to a glue factory. Is what happens to Boxer any different to what has happened, what is happening and what will happen to the elderly in Cuba? Working their whole lives for a system that simply ignores them when they are of no use to the system? Of course, they are not sent to a glue factory; however, they are sent to live out their lives in the pastures of a government that has all but forgotten about them.

      Reply
    • The cost of many items in Cuba is 3 times of that in Canada. you Cuba you have ration book that give certain items in limited amounts very cheaply. A modest pension in Canada is $1,150 per month ,with many ex government employees getting $2,000 plus other savings. I am very careful with money and I bought food at the local farmers market took local Cuban transport where possible. I would not want to live in Cuba for under 1,200 pesos per month.

      Reply
  • In the latest issue of THE NATION there is an article about how the U.S. is “outsourcing” its retirees to the Third World. Increasingly, U.S. elders are retiring abroad, often to the Third World, the only place they can afford to live. Entire magazines and web-sites are devoted to where and how U.S. retirees can move to more affordable places abroad. Of course most U.S. retirees, with their meager $1,300 to $1,800/month pensions, are not in as bad a shape as Cuban retirees with $20/month (often less!), but comparatively speaking, the difference is not that great, considering that most of the retirees children have to spend a third to half of their disposable income paying off school loans, outrageous rents or mortgages, etc. and can’t afford to help out their parents as they once did. (Actually, only 30+ years ago it were the parents, still working or already retire, who often helped out their grown kids. This is no longer the case in our brave new world where the 1% rakes in most of the wealth, with the rest of us licking up the crumbs!) In Cuba, all generations of a family often pull together, whether it be in setting up a casa particular, a paladar, or other enterprise. This is more reminiscent of American families in the first half of the 20th Century, but is not the case with most American families now for obvious reasons.

    Reply
    • The Cubans who have houses sufficiently large to be able to let rooms (casa particulars) or to convert part into a restaurant (paladars) are a miniscule proportion of the population. Additionally, a high percentage of those who have managed to establish such businesses have been able to do so because they are recipients of remittances from relatives who live overseas – usually in North America.
      Writing that “comparatively speaking the difference is not that great” is nonsense. The difference is between $8 and $1,300 to $1,800 per month.
      Those US retirees can afford to purchase houses in Equador, Dominica and Belize which may involve them selling their properties in the US. Such options are not available to Cubans.
      One gets a mental picture of you US citizens grovelling around licking up the crumbs you describe when knowing that the comment bears no comparison to the reality. You must have visited Ireland and kissed the Blarney stone.
      In short, there is no valid comparison!

      Reply
  • After reading the final sentence, “Carlos brings us an illustration of this precarious
    situation for people who often gave 40 or 50 years of their life to work for
    government businesses or institutions,” I was reminded of Boxer, the cart
    horse, in George Orwell’s timeless classic, ANIMAL FARM. Boxer’s naiveté is seen throughout the novel. His two mottoes are “I will work harder” and “Napoleon is always right.” What happens to Boxer, who has worked tirelessly all his life for the system until he is of no use to the pigs? He is sent to a glue factory. Is what happens to Boxer any different to what has happened, what is happening and what will happen to the elderly in Cuba? Working their whole lives for a system that simply ignores them when they are of no use to the system? Of course, they are not sent to a glue factory; however, they are sent to live out their lives in the pastures of a government that has all but forgotten about them.

    Reply
  • Mr Castro.
    The parents of these 60 plus senior Cuban citizens were probably those who assisted you , yes “YOU” During your revolutionary period, when you were possibly an idealist and believed that what you and one Ernesto “Che” Guevara plus others were doing was for the best for the people of Cuba. So I ask you, me being an Irishman whose family in times gone by have suffered from the yoke of English politics and oppression, , why have you failed the Cuban people? The elderly as well as the youth of Cuba deserve so much better. Ask yourself this question Mr Castro, could you survive on the same amount that is being paid to your senior citizens each month? The parents of these senior citizens believed in you and your comrades so why have you let them down? These dead Cuban citizens are looking down on you from Heaven and wondering why you let them down? only you Mr Castro can provide that answer.

    Reply

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