Fernando Ravsberg*

The new price for a 1/2 kilo is powdered milk is 3.35 CUC. The kilo went up to 6.60 CUC. (1 CUC = 1.13 USD).

HAVANA TIMES — Officials from the Ministry of Finance and Prices, the Food Industry and CIMEX Corp. pulled off a fast one this week when they announced they would raise the price of milk because its price on the world market had gone up.

Various sources, including the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, ensure that the international price of milk powder is falling and this year will actually cost 10% less. Apparently the population deserves a more detailed explanation on the subject.

Someone should explain where the milk is purchased, why it is so expensive, if Washington penalizes the sale [under the embargo] when the cows have US genes or if the integration with Latin America cannot provide cheaper markets.

If the government’s importers do not have clear answers to these questions, the Comptroller General of the Republic should become involved at the smell of the sour milk. It wouldn’t be the first time they buy bad and expensive.

And while at the same time they are telling people that the milk price must go up, they also recently announced that tens of thousands of cows are dying of hunger and thirst in the country. As happens with the bankers in Europe, inefficiently run agriculture is paid for by the citizens.

Assuming that all the criticisms that have been unleashed are wrong and that Cuba cannot buy milk cheaper on the international market, there could still be better solutions than raising the price to the public.

Blogger Yohan Gonzalez proposes raising the price of “luxury products or alcoholic beverages, which being harmful to health could well receive a tax to avoid further losses with the milk.”

If the sales price of cars rose to 10 times their value to fund public transport, why not use the same principle to subsidize milk for children and the elderly by raising the price of rum and cigarettes?

In the case of rum and milk, I don’t think anyone doubts as to which product should be subsidized and which should be taxed. Families with children and also those with alcoholics would be appreciative.

If this really is the “revolution of the humble, for the humble and for the humble” there are many more products that could be taxed to subsidize the staples of the Cuban family.

You’d think it would annoy the humble of the revolution to have the same tax on imported ice cream, cheese and chocolates as on staple products, forcing them to spend more than 10% of their salary to buy a liter of vegetable oil.

When the government raised car prices nobody supported the measure, but to most Cubans it mattered little. With the increase in the price of milk, officials are once again alone, but this time managed to awaken the ill-feeling of the majority of the population.
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(*) Visit Fernando Ravsberg’s blog.


14 thoughts on “Cuba’s Expensive Glass of Milk

  • I always find it rather offensive to have someone laud the distribution, efficiency, or “good will” of communist Cuba, especially when it comes to diet. Having had to endure the reality of the Cuban diet in my youth, I can tell you it was no fun, it was barely existence, and this before the special period!

  • I left cuba in 1994…and after 1989 the cuban population did not see the beef even in pics.

  • Fast food, loaded with fat & processed carbohydrates are more expensive than fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. The poor chose to eat a poor diet for cultural reasons. I have worked in a food bank in Toronto handing out food to the poor. The poor tend to ignore the fruits & vegetables and grab all the chips, Kraft dinner and sugary cereals they can carry.

  • Beef, pork and chicken are cheap in the US. Nearly all those in poverty have enough to eat, including protein and milk. When US poor do not get enough to eat, it’s almost always a matter of some other social problem such as drug or alcohol abuse or parental neglect. In fact, obesity is a greater problem among US poor than hunger is.

    Before the Cuban revolution, the poor at better than the average Cuban today. They had worse housing and little to no education or medical care, but they did eat better.

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