By Aurelio Pedroso (Progreso Semanal)
HAVANA TIMES – It seems we have started the year with a former ally who has now become our enemy on the street and at home: the so-called “Convertible Cuban Peso”, and we’ll have to add to its wake CUC’s nicknames, chavito and even the super-optimistic who called it the dollar.
The wheels that were spinning loudly months ago, are finally announcing its end without an official death certificate, although the government has come out and said yet again (maybe to calm down the uneasy) that the convertible pesos people have in bank vaults or in a shoe-boxes or biscuit cans hidden at home, will be respected.
Days before the end of 2019, hand-made signs appeared at the agro-market on 15th and 24th streets in Vedado, in Havana’s Plaza de la Revolucion municipality, as a sign of scorn. A sign in the entrance itself clearly said “I don’t take CUC”, while the other, with the same message and handwriting, insisted on the fact that “We don’t accept CUC. Sorry for the inconvenience.” Then they go on and share the price list of sweet potatoes, cassava, tomatoes and vegetables of the season.
And thus, taking more and more decisive steps, some private sellers are already no longer accepting CUC while certain retail stores are giving change for CUC back in Cuban pesos (CUP), the real survivors, although trampled all over, ever since the CUC appeared to substitute the USD back in 1994 when the dollar circulated in our economy freely in the country’s rural areas and cities.
As we say here in Cuba, mamey season is on its way. And until that happens, we have no idea what the exchange rate will be. An exchange rate that was born out of rough times and speculation, which the government should have come out and denied when the rumor spread like gunpowder that we would be getting 50 Cuban pesos for 1 USD.
As we’re talking about this green bill, which starts with Washington and has our never-ending tender and scrutinizing gaze, as it is far from the official Bureau d’Change here, it is being changed for 1.10-1.15 CUC. The street-wise have no idea how this will change from here on out. But, one thing’s for sure: it’s no mistake of thinking it’s better to have dollars or euros at home.
There is no need to call for meetings or make appeals to people who have the duty to listen and pass on popular opinion to the highest ranks of the Communist Party so they understand that the Cuban people are very worried about currency, prices and wages.
Even the Cuban TV comedy show, Vivir del cuento, which has the highest ratings on the island, and its main characters talked about CUC in the New Years episode. Andy Vazquez was missing from the cast and greatly missed, he was cut without any explanation to the public. And, like has happened many times before, all kinds of rumors have been fabricated from this lack of information. An episode that proves that transparency of information is very far away from what it should be.
We’ll have to watch the CUC’s funeral celebrations, which we still don’t know whether it will receive military or civilian honors, with something familiar, so that we understand it better:
“We saw it coming…”