Prices and other Horror Stories from Cuba

By Aurelio Pedroso  (Progreso Semanal)

Photo: Raquel Perez

HAVANA TIMES – There isn’t a time in the day here in Cuba when we don’t have to look at our wallets with sadness or up at the heavens. Our baseball players normally do the latter when they hit a home run, they lift their arms and eyes up to the infinite heavens, thanking God Almighty, when they haven’t ever stepped foot inside a church.

And, that is the big difference here. Some people are grateful, and others complain about their financial means to tackle the new bad news.

“Everything has gone up” is the handy phrase that a restaurant owner says, explaining how he has to pay 40 pesos (US $1.65) for a pound of lemons, to a woman who has to pay, all alone, for the essential extra she needs at a hard-currency store.

Meanwhile, incomes and pensions remain low and even the government has publicly recognized this. As a result, so many people find themselves forced to take part in activities that are considered illegal, which are nothing more than them trying to find a way to survive, and not to become criminals and no longer be dignified people.

Whomever steals 20 liters of diesel from the State to sell it for 15 Cuban pesos per liter, claims that they are doing this to be able to buy a pound of pork for 55 pesos. And, that butcher tells you that fodder prices are sky-high and he needs to pay 220 pesos or 10 CUC (=usd) so that, between all the neighbors, they can pay someone 100 CUC to clean the septic tank in their building.

The septic tank operator has publicly said that, with everything so expensive, the mechanic is offering a new pump for nothing less than 300 CUC. Another worker, in order to deal with life’s high prices and the few scruples of those who trade medicine on the black market, swears on the Bible, that his diabetic wife needs to pay someone else 30 pesos for a glibenclamide pill, who is alarmed because they had to pay 5 CUC or 120 pesos for a carton of 24 eggs…

The story is never-ending. The restless dog biting its own tail or, as we say in the game of dominoes: Songo knocks Borondongo, Borongo knocks …

And, meanwhile, the economy is sitting in a corner contemplating the landscape from the frontline without being able to do much but demanding greater productivity anyway. If there isn’t wealth, I can’t do much, it seems to say to itself.

Hard times call for decisions of the same magnitude…

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16 thoughts on “Prices and other Horror Stories from Cuba

  • Berta,
    No tienes razón. Estas durmiendo.

  • I live in Canada and have traveled to Varadero Cuba about 20 times in the past 5 years . I have many friends . One of my friends works in a buffet restaurant and makes about 25 cuc a month . My other friend is an English teacher and makes 27 cuc a month but of course only works 10 months . You cant feed 2 people for 1 month with that money . So tell me . How do you pay rent ?? You cant rent a 200 square foot house for 50 cuc a month .

  • Cuba have 11 million of homeless!

  • Charles, you’re right!
    For some others, personal comfort seems to be their reason of life. Freedom is not what you own, materially speaking, is more about your mind, soul and heart. And at the end, it’s all you need to succeed.
    Cuba still have a very good education and health system, which can give them enough to start.
    For all other things everybody can improve the quality of comfort working a bit more and focusing about their self, families, friends. When you can, help your closes as much as you can, in this way you really do something good.
    Kennedy spoke his famous words, “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” A country is made from people.
    There is no perfect country or system, but helping your families you help Cuba. Siempre!

  • Carlitos please. Stop lying, if you really think that Cuba standard of living is that great go and set your home in there. I never would tell anyone what to do with their life but you are insulting 2 and half millions of Cubans living in exile, in thousands who are dead in the bottom of the sea.

  • Move to Cuba if you think is that great. Cubans needs freedom. Democracy now!

  • Rosita , you are right. It’s incredible how some people tells the Cubans that they live in paradise but they enjoy capitalism, democracy, and freedom of speech.

  • Viva Cuba ! !!

  • Linda my comment is directed to you and Rosita. Both of you seemed to be living inside your own world…too bad.

  • Not long ago a lot of people lost their home and everything due to the wild fire in California. Every year in the United States many people become homeless due to Tonators, huracanes, Ciclones, temblores de tierra y fenomenos de la naturalesa. Aquellos que piensan y comentan como Rosita pidale a Dios no caer en la desgracia como aquellos desafortunados donde la vida los a convertido en homeless. Nobody in the right mind choose to be homeless. Anybody can become homeless in any time regardless. Nobody choose to become mentally ill. Rosita here in american nobody own anything, it is “todo una ilucion.” The Federal y States government owns the land in american. That’s why you have to pay property taxes and everything taxes until you died.

  • La rason de que muchos cubanos la gran mayoria jovenes estan abandonado cuba es por la ignoracia primeramente y la ilucion creada por aquello mismo cubanos que viven el Miami que viajan a cuba presimiemdo y aparentan estar viviendo como ricos cuando en realida estan echos unos esclavo moderno y empeñados hasta el cuello aqui en el pais de los millone. Cuba esta mucho mejor en calidad de vida que todo los paises del caribe incluyendo sur y centro america. Y comparandolo a los Estados Unidos en cuba no existe homeless, el sistema de educacion es 10 veses mejor que el de aqui. El sitema de salud es 10 veses mucho mejor que aqui en conclusion yo no cambio la isla de cuba por el continente de los Estados Unidos. Rosita y aquellos ignorantes que menos precian a los homeless, yo le pido a Dios que ojala la desgracia nunca llegue a tocar sus puertas y se vean en la misma situacion que los homeless de LA y el resto del pais.

  • A very good response to someone who you correctly label as “uneducated” though not in so many words of course. You write about homelessness only here, now imagine contemplating other important things like education and health. . . areas in which Cuba stands shoulders above even some so-called first world nations.

  • The homeless in LA and in most places in the US are mentally disturbed people who have made a CHOICE to live the way they do, not because their collapsed apt in Havana will never be rebuilt,unless it’s in Regla and hit by a tornado, which most Cubans are praying for nowadays. If Cubans are so much better off , why are so many leaving everyday ?

    My cab diver in Cuba also works as a doctor, cab drivers get paid better, who would’ve imagined that you needed to complete medical school to drive a taxi.

  • Rosita, what a crazy response you provide to my point regarding the massive homeless problem in Los Angeles, by referring to the so called liberal nature of Los Angeles.

    How does Los Angeles being liberal have anything to do with the fact presented, to wit, massive homelessness. By the way, your grand statement is not a statement of fact either way.

    So let me continue, Rosita. Look at any large or medium sized city or state in the USA. Certainly you will discover proportional homelessness. Note I was drawing an extreme comparison, that is USA vs. Cuba (the faulty comparison most Cubans make). Let’s make a more appropriate comparison, Cuba to like islands. Let’s say the Dominican Republic or Haiti. Cubans are so much better off in terms of all quality of life factors.

    Rosita, if you had stated in Cuba, and not abandoned your country, you might have been afforded a better education from which you could have presented a better reply.


  • Berta,,,que locuras dice,,,el gobierno de Los Angeles es uno de los más de izquierda de la nación, que con su políticas socialistas gasta más dinero público q todo el pais, dándole hasta a los inmigrantes ilegales derechos como estudio,salud y viviendas asequibles para todo..

  • The 50,000 homeless folks in Los Angeles have absolutely nothing to look forward to:

    “Approximately 50,000 people are experiencing homelessness in and around L.A., according to the latest count by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority. The vast majority of them live unsheltered on the streets. According to city officials and nonprofit leaders, there’s a growing frustration among L.A. residents who — despite the city’s big new investments in housing and services — continue to confront L.A.’s homeless crisis in their daily lives.”

    Cubans, … appreciate what you do have!

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