Fernando Dámaso, Translator: Adrian Rodriguez
Máximo Gómez, the great Dominican promoter of our independence, said
that Cubans either don't reach far enough or reach too far, and without
a doubt, he was right. As you can see he knew us very well! Now with
this new issue of eliminating paternalism and gratuities, the
correctness of his opinion is ratified one more time. Let's look at it
piece by piece, but first is necessary to make clearthat the so called
paternalism and gratuities are undisputed fallacies, which served to
mask the miserable wages that Cubans have been receiving for more than
fifty years: the government supplied through the commonly named ration
card some products, increasingly fewer, at lower prices (subsidized), as
well as some services provided free of charge, in order to not raise the
salaries and pay the workers what they really should have been paid.
Therefore, everything has been paid for with the salaries that the
workers didn't receive.
Today the minimum monthly salary does not exceed $240 pesos national
currency (equal to 10 CUC* or 9 US dollars) and the median monthly
salary is $440 pesos national currency (20 CUC* — equal to 18 US
dollars). If we convert this to a daily basis the wages will be 8 and 16
Cuban pesos national currency, respectively (in either case less than 1
CUC or 1 dollar a day). This is important in order to establish comparisons.
The prices of products that were supplied before as subsidized, now are
supplied as "released" (that is unrationed) items (it seems they were in
jail), but at a huge price (maybe because the cost of the bail bond).
Here are some examples: rice, from 40 to 90 cents a pound, increased to
5 cuban pesos; refined sugar, from 20 cents a pound to 8 cuban pesos;
brown sugar, from 10 cents a pound to 6 cuban pesos; washing soap, from
20 cents a bar, to 6 cuban pesos; bath soap, from 40 cents a bar to 5
cuban pesos, and liquid detergent, from $3.50 a liter to 25 cuban pesos.
If the State truly subsidized these products, how much were the
subsidiesequivalent to? Nobody can believe that sugar (the primary
national export product back in its heyday) could possibly be subsidized
at 7.80 cuban pesos a pound, nor liquid detergent at 21.50 cuban pesos.
This is totally absurd.
The question would be, why these exaggerated prices on essential goods?
The acquisition of one of them represents a citizen's salary for a day's
work or more. Is this part of the economic model updating? For these
price raises there was no need for any kind of meeting, nor discussions
in the social base, neither in the National Assembly: They were just
implemented and that's it. About raising the salaries, which should be
the right thing to do, nobody says absolutely anything. The most you can
hear is that, it will be done when we are able to produce and increase
the production. In other words: Wait for the Greek Calends.
These, unfortunately, are our realities, and it calls attention to the
fact that there are still dreamers, who believe we are on the right path
towards the solution of our problems. So far, it has only produced a
redistribution of the load: Move even more cargo from the imaginary
shoulders of the State (in reality it has always been on Cubans
shoulders ) to the already overloaded citizens.
*Translator's note: CUC is a Cuban Convertible Peso, one of Cuba's two
currencies, the other being Moneda Nacional — National Money — or the
Translated by Adrian Rodriguez.
July 10 2011