The Dollarization of Cuban Retail Sales

By Benjamin Noria

One of the many stores of the Cuban military now selling in US dollars. The State has a monopoly on retail sales.

HAVANA TIMES – Back in March of this year, I walked cluelessly into a store in Havana to buy a product I wanted. There, I was told that this retail establishment now sells in USD. 

A week later, I visited another store in the capital and naively chose the products I wanted to buy and took them to the checkout. When I was getting ready to pay in Cuban pesos (which is the currency my wages are paid in here in Cuba), the woman at the checkout told me that they were selling in USD.

You’d think it was a lie because the simple possession of USD was a crime here up until 1993 and many Cubans were locked up in the Castro regime’s prisons for simply having a bill made out of paper.

Now, at least two stores in different Cuban provinces turn to selling products in USD every month, so far this year anyway. I discovered this reading comments from Cubans in Facebook groups about their nonconformity with the regime.

There are two things I still can’t understand. The first: if Cubans don’t receive their wages in USD, how can you explain stores here selling products in this currency? The second: if Communism means trend towards the general, equality, how can all Cubans be the same if we don’t all have family living abroad who send back remittances?

This dollarization of the Cuban economy has made me think that the Government doesn’t have a clue what Marxism is. None of them have ever read Soviet manuals or Karl Marx’s books, or have even sought counsel from Marxist philosophy doctors from some university in Russia.

It’s a well-known fact that dollarization happens when a country’s national currency becomes devalued, or when goods aren’t being produced to compete with these and they don’t satisfy the national population’s needs. The Castro regime has left Cuba in ruins forever.  

An interesting fact: Cuban peso stores are now empty and stores selling in USD are relatively well-stocked. How is this happening? Doesn’t everything belong to the State? How do parents explain to their children that they can’t buy crackers or cookies because they are only being sold in USD and they aren’t being paid in this currency?

Another interesting fact: Cubans need to have dollars on a card, that’s to say, you can’t pay for things with USD in hand. USD in cash are useless. What is the Communist government’s scheme behind this strategy?

Furthermore, the State doesn’t have USD available to sell them at the so-called CADECA bureaus de change. This means to say that even if somebody works tooth and nail to save up some money, they can’t buy dollars from the State at the official 24:1 rate, but for 60 pesos:1 USD instead, like predatory sellers are selling them on the street.

Up until now, it’s been proven that nearly every method the regime applies ends up harming the Cuban people, not helping them. Few measures truly have the Cuban people’s wellbeing at their heart, nor progress or the country’s prosperity. The proof? Sixty-two years of hardship under the Cuban Revolution. All of this money is filling the pockets of the Castro Government, to swell their bank accounts abroad and to pay for their yachts and banquets.

Read more from Cuba here.