HAVANA TIMES — Ana Teresa Igarza, director general of the Mariel Special Development Zone (ZEDM) Regulations Office, recently announced that a special hard-currency exchange rate had been established for Zone employees.
Contracted employees will receive 80 percent of the salaries agreed to by Cuban employment agencies and investors, and payments are to be made in regular Cuban pesos (CUP), at a “special” exchange rate of 1 Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC) to 10 CUP. This is as “special” as the Special Period.
That is to say, if the employment agency negotiates a 1,000 CUC salary (or its equivalent in US dollars) for a Cuban worker, the agency will pocket the 1,000 CUC (or its equivalent in US dollars) and pay the Cuban worker (in CUP) 80 percent of the sum agreed to, at the special exchange rate of 10 CUP to 1 CUC.
If mathematics hasn’t also been deformed by “State socialism”, this means the worker will receive 10 Cuban pesos for each CUC, which means that their salary would be 8,000 CUP (10 x 800).
When that worker comes out of the ZEDM, in order to purchase anything at the hard-currency stores operated by Cuba’s military monopoly, they will have to resort to government exchange locales (or CADECAS), where they are required to buy CUC at an exchange rate of 25 to 1. Thus, their 8,000 Cuban pesos become 320 CUC.
This means that, of the 1,000 CUC (or their equivalent in US dollars) paid by the investor, Cuban workers will only receive 32%. To this, we must add that the wage worker must pay an additional 5 percent for State “social security”, which means that they are ultimately only receiving 27 percent of the original 1,000 CUC.
A total of 63 percent will go to the State, which will sit back and not “get its hands dirty” – it will pocket this only for acting as an “intermediary” between the investor, a euphemism for a foreign capitalist exploiter, and Cuban salaried workers.
A crafty maneuver, true, but it can’t hide the double exploitation they would submit Cuban workers to, between the foreign capitalists and the extortionist State which, to add insult to injury, leaves workers helpless, deprived of laws that could protect them from their employers.
Having accustomed Cuba’s working class to hyper-exploitation, the State of course expects workers to content themselves with 32 % of their salaries. The other 68 % goes to the “nation.”
The benefits that the Mariel port mega-project brings the Cuban working class are becoming clear.
The much publicized Mariel project thus takes off its “progressive” mask to show its true face, to reveal itself as the extortionist of Cuban wage workers.
It is a clear illustration of the sought-after alliance between Cuba’s State monopoly capitalism (which has sought to pass itself off as “socialism”) and international capital, coming together to jointly exploit Cuba’s workforce.