14ymedio, Juan Diego Rodríguez, Havana, January 13, 2021 — Faced with complaints from citizens that they could not find places to spend their Cuban convertible pesos (CUC), the Cuban government announced that no fewer than 500 stores would accept the old currency. The list included the Caracol chain of stores, the Palmares Company, and the Artistic and Literary Promotion Agency (Artex). 14ymedio confirmed on Tuesday, however, that these businesses are now only accepting Cuban pesos (CUP).
At the Caracol branch in the Habana Libre hotel they had not even heard the news. “We only accept CUP here,” said an employee when a customer asked if she could pay in CUC.
“I still have 20 CUC and I would like to spend them on something useful without having to wait in line at the bank. I heard the news on television and came to this store, which is on the corner near my house. But as you can see, either Murillo was lying or these people don’t know how to do their jobs,” said the customer, waiving the rejected bill.
Marino Murillo, the so-called “reform czar,” said it himself during a Roundtable broadcast and reiterated it on his official Twitter account: “The conditions have gradually been created so that, starting today (Monday), CUC will now be accepted in more than five-hundred establishments of the Caracol, Palmares, Artex and Egrem chains throughout the country.”
In addition to the establishments newly designated to accept CUC, he claimed that stores run by Cimex corporation and the Caribe chain were already following the new policy.
At Arte Habana, an Artex store located on San Rafael Street, the employee was blunt: “Look, I don’t know what they said on the Roundtable but here we’ve been told we can only charge in pesos, no CUC.”
“I don’t have that information. Call back tomorrow,” said an employee of the Tropicana nightclub, a subsidiary of Palmares, in response to a question posed during a phone call.
Handmade signs that read “CUC not accepted” have become a common sight in private businesses and taxis since late December, days before the new economic measures took effect.
As part of the monetary unification process being implemented throughout the country, the government had stated that the CUC would remain in circulation for six months. In practice, however, very few businesses are accepting it.
“A lot of people come here expecting to pay in CUC because they heard on television that they would have up to six months to spend it. But the truth is that we as private businesses are under no obligation to take them,” an employee of a privately owned cafe in Nuevo Vedado told 14ymedio.”I don’t accept CUC but, look, in addition to Cuban pesos, anyone who so desires can pay me in dollars or euros.”
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