Convertible Pesos (CUC) or Cuban Pesos (CUP): The Same Dog With a Different Collar / Calixto R. Martinez Arias

CUC-o-CUP-1HAVANA, Cuba — The “hard currency collection stores” [as the government itself named them], have started accepting both of the two Cuban currencies. But with the high prices of the products, and the miserable wages paid to Cubans, it does little to help out their pockets. Following the demise of socialism (1994), two currencies began to circulate in Havana: the Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC) with parity* to the U.S. Dollar, and the Cuban Peso (CUP).

Opposition sectors launched the campaign “With the same money,” in the face of the gap between those who have CUCs and those who depend on CUPs. Although paying with either currency had been announced in the official press (which few read) those who went to La Copa market in Miramar on Wednesday were shocked. “Yes, starting today we are selling in both currencies,” said the clerk, who added, “this type of selling is starting as an experiment, and won’t be carried out in all the stores. Here at La Copa, you can pay with either currency only for perfume, cosmetics and personal care products.”

The measure doesn’t appear to benefit average Cubans. “Product prices will be based on the current exchange rate of 25 CUP for one CUC,” explained the La Copa worker, and she clarified, “Something that costs 2 CUC can be paid for with 50 CUP.” The ability to pay with either of the two currencies, in a country where the average salary is 450 CUP — some 18 CUC — simply means avoiding the lines at the exchange kiosks, called CADECAS.

Here are the average salaries in CUC by province for the year 2012: Ciego de Ávila ($20.6 0); Matanzas ($19.32); Cienfuegos ($19.00); Sancti Spiritus ($18.92); and Pinar del Rio ($18.84).  The provinces with the lowest salaries were: Isla de la Juventud ($18.04)  Guantanamo ($17.36) and Santiago de Cuba ($17.32).

*Translator’s notes: While the CUC is nominally worth one US dollar, exchange fees are added for tourists changing foreign currency — with an additional fee for those changing U.S. Dollars versus other world currencies — making it actually cost $1.10 or more.

Cubanet, 10 March 2014, Calixto R. Martinez Arias

Sacristan Arrested for Protecting Ladies in White / Calixto R. Martinez Arias

Sacristan Pupo — photo Calixto Ramon

HAVANA, Cuba. — Roberto Pupo Tejeda, sacristan of the Catholic Church, was arrested and mistreated by officials of the State Security Department (DSE).

“I was in the Church participating in the Sunday Mass, and I went out to observe the walk of the Ladies (in White),” said Pupo Tejeda, referring to the customary walk that they hold on leaving mass, down Fifth Avenue, the women’s movement that demands from the government freedom for political prisoners and respect for human rights.

The religious man, was who taken in a PNR (National Revolutionary Police) paddy wagon  along with six opposition activists to a police station, told this reporter after being freed in the afternoon that he was a victim of taunts and physical and psychological mistreatment on the part of officers of the DSE.

“They put the handcuffs on me too tight, and in order to take them off, a Security officer who identified himself as Camilo used a knife, and as if to intimidate me said that I should be calm because the knife had a quite sharp blade, and he might slip and cut me,” indicated the sacristan while showing the lacerations caused by the shackles.

According Pupo Tejeda, who was threatened by his oppressors with being deported to his native Holguin, 700 kilometers to the east of Havana, when he showed his card that identified him as a member of the Church, the DSE officers told him that that gave him no right to protect the Ladies in White. continue reading

“When I saw that they (DSE officers) rushed violently to arrest the Ladies, I put myself in the middle to protect them.  That was all that provoked their ire with me,” he emphasized.

Berta Soler, leader and spokesman of the Ladies in White, confirmed to this reporter the arrest of the sacristan and reported that a total of one hundred activists from her movement were arrested on leaving the Santa Rita Church, as well as some ten opponents who had gone to offer their support.

She also emphasized that the number of women detained this Sunday is around 200 because there were arrests in all the provinces in which the Movement has headquarters.

Sacristan Pupo shows marks of mistreatment — photo Calixto Ramon

The National Revolutionary Police’s (PNR) and DSE’s way of working in the arrest of the layman and more than a hundred opponents exposes the falsity of the words of the Catholic hierarchy and of the General President.

The wave of arrests took place in the morning hours this Sunday, February 23, when both repressive bodies carried out a raid against dissidents and opponents in the vicinity of the Santa Rita de Casia church located in the neighborhood of Miramar in Havana where the Ladies in White attend mass each Sunday.

Cubanet, February 24, 2014,

Translated by mlk.